Join a conversation on technology and management education in the developing world

Page_Schindler_BuchananAlthough eLearning is hardly a new concept, recent developments in mobile and online courses have put it front and center in the minds of educators around the world, and business schools are no exception. This is why at the annual conference of the Global Business School Network  (GBSN) in Tunisia this June we will be taking a close look at how technology can be leveraged to drastically improve the quality and accessibility of business and management education in the developing world.

By Page Buchanan, Global Business School Network

GBSN is a nonprofit organisation that works to build management education capacity for the developing world by fostering international partnerships and cross-border knowledge sharing.  We have a network of over 50 leading business schools around the world including MIT Sloan, Haas Berkeley, London Business School, Asian Institute of Management, INSEAD, Lagos Business School, Universidad de Los Andes, Babson College, Mediterranean School of Business, SDA Bocconi, and Institute of Business Administration, Karachi – to name a few.

Our annual conference is a premier global forum for management educators, development professionals, industry representatives and government officials to come together to network, learn and discuss new ideas about how to improve business and management education in the developing world.  This year we’re focusing on the theme “Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship.”  With that in mind, we realised that it was critical for us to spend some time during this conference exploring the ways that technology can, and could, be used to further our mission.

The potential that technology holds for building management capacity in developing countries is extremely exciting.  Already, mobile phones are being used to teach financial literacy, connect job applicants with employers and link entrepreneurs to support services.  How much further can we go using this increasingly ubiquitous tool to spread good management practices and leadership skills?

MOOCs (those massive open online courses that everyone is talking about) could be a fantastic boon for students and professors once we are able to work out how to control fraud, ensure quality and integrate them into locally relevant curricula.  “Flipped classrooms” where teachers assign students lectures to watch as homework and then have interactive discussions and exercises in the classroom could be a way for areas of the world that lack knowledge resources to learn about international best practice.

And there are affordable online platforms that allow for unprecedented international collaboration that could allow for cross-border training for managers, entrepreneurs and professors.  Creative application of these tools could significantly impact the pool of qualified managers and faculty available in developing countries.  In fact, here at GBSN we are currently working to develop a program using one of these platforms to train PhDs with a global consortium of business schools.

At our conference, we will be looking closely at these groundbreaking technologies and discussing ways that educators can capitalise on them in the MENA region as well as throughout the developing world.  Participants will have a chance to ask questions of a panel of leading innovators and researchers in the field, including people like Jacob Korenblum, founder of the innovative mobile services company Souktel that links people with jobs and connects aid agencies with communities who need help.  Additionally, participants will participate in “Challenge Sessions” where they will be given a topic and will work with their colleagues around the table to come up with ways to address challenges such as:

  • employing MOOCs for Africa,
  • flipped classrooms in places where faculty are hard to come by,
  • building a collaborative model to train PhDs across borders, and
  • using mobile technology to scale entrepreneurship training.

We look forward to hearing the ideas that come out of these sessions with the innovative and experienced educators and professionals that attend the conference.  This year GBSN will celebrate 10 years of working with our member schools and partners to improve and spread management education in the developing world.  These conversations are a critical step in finding the best avenues to do that in our next decade.

If you’d like to join the conversation, please visit www.gbsnonline.org/2013 or email info@gbsnonline.org to find out how to register for the conference.  The open sessions of  the GBSN Annual Conference will be held June 11 and 12 at the Residence Hotel in Tunis, Tunisia.

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