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VR Disrupting Business School Programs In Europe

Image credit: ESMT business school in Berlin

ESMT Berlin  was founded by 25 German multinationals as a top international business school in Germany – a business school founded by business. 

ESMT Berlin has been named “top in Germany” by the Financial Times and is the most international business school in the country. Each year more than 90% of its full-time MBA students come from outside of Germany. 

The school offers management degree programs and executive education that focuses on three main topics: leadership and social responsibility, European competitiveness, and the management of technology. 

Students at the ESMT business school in Berlin have a new leadership training module in their course: a 45 minute virtual reality game designed to reinforce leadership principles. These executives are from some of Germany’s biggest companies. They’re not exactly strangers to leadership. But the game tests their abilities in a way that would be difficult to replicate in the non-virtual world. 

Image credit: Financial Times
Students at the ESMT Berlin business school are using virtual reality to learn leadership in a digital world

In an article in the Financial Times, Benjamin Quaiser, the program director at ESMT Berlin, says “Digitization is a topic or theme in every class we teach, because these executives all know that their businesses are being, or will be, disrupted by digital technology. But it’s quite hard to talk about it without using technology. By immersing them in a virtual environment where they have to lead, collaborate and solve problems with each other, they experience how challenging it is to lead in a digital world.”

Virtual reality teaching environments are increasingly being used in European business schools. In a world where remote working is becoming the norm, more business schools are teaching their students using virtual reality.

BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo is taking a similar approach with its students and virtual learning. They use an application called Differ which allows students to participate in classes virtually. The school has found that virtual assistant technology can help increase student engagement in the real world. Anne Berit Swanberg, director at the school's learning lab, says class participation is five times higher after students use Differ, the chatbot it employs to encourage them to engage with course material.

NEOMA Business School in France is using the latest technologies to foster creativity, crucial for business success, in its master’s and executive students. Created in 2013 by the merger of France’s Rouen Business School and Reims Management School, NEOMA has innovation at its core.

The school was the first in the world to use immersive virtual reality in its management courses. In a marketing simulation, students are equipped with virtual reality headsets and analyze the setup of a store reconstructed in 360° photos and videos.

Helena González Gómez—HR professor and head of the People and Organizations Department—explains, virtual reality is used as a complementary teaching resource alongside a host of experiential learning experiences: internships, company visits, and student society expeditions. “In this fast, rapidly-changing business environment, you need innovation to compete at different levels. And the first step for innovation is creativity,” she says.

In a 2010 study of over 1,500 CEOs across 60 nations conducted by IBM, 60% cited creativity as the most important leadership quality. For Helena, who has a PhD in Management from Spain’s IE Business School, creativity is associated with organizational sustainability.

IE Business School is another European business school boosting the technological immersion of students to transform the learning experience.

Based in Madrid, IE focuses on international business and draws students from all over the world. According to Forbes, The Best International MBAs: One-Year Programs, just 8% of the 2018 class came from Spain. Twenty-five percent came from Europe, 21% from South America, 20% from North America and 16% from Asia. IE's one-year program costs $78,000, but graduates get jobs. Eighty-nine percent of the 2016 class had jobs three months after graduation, despite the fact that half of Spaniards under 25 years old were unemployed.

Image credit: IE Business School

IE Business School offers a technology-based learning ecosystem for leaders making a difference in the world through innovation, global vision, an entrepreneurial mindset and a unique approach to the Humanities.

In October, IE Business School unveiled its commitment to the technological immersion of its students. The IE Learning Innovation team has prototyped an interactive and collaborative platform, a space designed with VR technology where students and professors could meet and work together. “We are actively experimenting with VR technology as we believe it holds a big potential for the future: it is immersive, emotional, helps to keep the student attention and can offer a valuable space for practice. In the future, we believe it will help empower conceptual learning at scale” explains Jolanta Golanowska, Director of IE Learning Innovation.

Please find also the Financial Times recent article Business schools bring AI and VR into the classroom