3 predictions for business education in 2022 and beyond

by Simone Hammer
To ensure bright futures for business schools and their students, academic leaders must consider the dynamic forces impacting business education.

Business education has long ceased to be business as usual. The external forces changing it are more disruptive than ever, and as champions of business education, business schools are expected to lead the way.

But what are the changes ahead? We have outlined three key predictions, based on new and relevant research, tips and tricks from education experts, insights from our reputed business school customers and almost nine decades of experience in technology.

For an in-depth analysis of these findings, you can download Barco's Business Education Trend Report 2022. But first, let's get started with our key predictions. 

1. Business education will become more anchored in societal demands

With a climate crisis looming on the horizon and an increased awareness of global inequality and exclusion, society has renewed expectations from businesses and institutions. They should become part of the solution to the world’s most pressing problems.

The need to tackle these challenges will question the very purpose of business education. The paradigm underpinning how businesses should operate will focus not only on profit but also on people and planet to the same extent.

Education championed by business schools will have to become more attuned to these shifts and drive supporting initiatives.

Business schools should become more environmentally friendly by optimising their operations and adapting their programmes to educate talents that lead green, equitable, and inclusive organisations.

Adding flexible, online, or hybrid programmes can support business schools in driving sustainable and inclusive actions. These options would reduce traveling needs, classroom space and utilities, and paper usage.

In turn, not only will the carbon footprint decrease but so will costs, allowing for lower tuition fees and more scholarships, which will enable students from varied socioeconomic backgrounds to enroll. Online or hybrid programmes will also give access to learners from all over the world and with various abilities. 

2. Business education will become more accessible, flexible, and diversified

Business education will extend its reach and scope. Lifelong learning will become mandatory in a fast-paced era where the shelf life of skills is diminishing.

Business schools must devise flexible, shorter, and focused non-degree programmes for learners who juggle full-time jobs and families alongside learning. Already, 71 percent of employees agree that lifelong learning needs to be delivered flexibly if they are to engage in it.

Flexible learning will not only be for adult learners. Students’ demands changed during the pandemic when they discovered that learning also can be delivered effectively outside the standard classroom.

These shifts have been noticed already. More than 60 percent of business school leaders have stated that they will keep aspects of faculty teaching online and students learning remotely. They will have to keep the momentum and diversify their offerings: face-to-face, fully online, or hybrid classes; synchronous or asynchronous programmes; short courses or certifications.

Curricula will also change to add new and relevant content for a digital, ever-changing, socially conscious era. That can include soft skills, which are increasingly more relevant in the age of technologically enhanced decision-making and its intersections with ethics, sustainability, and inclusion.

The competitive landscape of business education will keep transforming. Digitalisation has led to the diversification and democratisation of education. It is now more global, accessible, and affordable than ever. The options are numerous and just one click away: from skill-focused platforms to MOOCs, online certifications, or degrees.

Business schools must be ready to adapt and transform, to diversify and upgrade their programmes and even partner with other institutions, businesses, and platforms to keep up and thrive.

3. Technology and digitalisation will unleash the potential of business education

Technology and digitalisation will make all the previous endeavors possible. It will allow business education to become more open, accessible, and flexible; enable new formats and content; and facilitate optimised and personalised learning. The power of technology will drive collaboration, support successful learning outcomes, and bring like-minded people closer together.

That is why digital transformation is an imperative that is well underway in most business schools. Depending on an institution’s budget, objectives, and degree of change desired, digital transformation can involve a number of factors: transforming customer and employee experience, internal culture, or operations; embracing new business models; upgrading digital platforms; or adopting new technology solutions.

Technology solutions like virtual and hybrid classrooms will become common. A 2021 report revealed an increase of 24 percent in virtual classroom usage, compared to 2020. These are purpose-built technology solutions for teaching.

Virtual classrooms allow for fully remote, interactive, and collaborative live sessions, with students able to join from anywhere in the world. Hybrid classrooms, on the other hand, enable learning with students connecting at the same time either virtually or in a physical classroom.

Other technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence, will make an impact. The market for AI in education will reach 25.7 billion USD in 2030 and it is no surprise considering its benefits. AI can ensure stellar customer service via chatbots, provide insights on audience engagement, personalise learning paths and more.

Augmented and virtual reality, as well as gamification, will become more prevalent. These will successfully supplement and diversify standard pedagogical practices. They aid experiential learning, entertain and motivate learners, and keep them engaged for longer periods. They will be particularly attractive to digital natives that will attend business schools in the coming years.

These are the key predictions that will change business education.

But the future has not yet been written. The future of business education is in the hands of today's visionary leaders. They must lead the change and ensure that business education forms the resilient and agile business talents of tomorrow - the ones who will steer thriving businesses that are mindful of our planet and valuable for people and society, in a world where the only constant is change.

Vision, however, is not enough. It is time to dream big and strategise bigger. Envision your ideal future of business and then develop the business education programmes needed to achieve it, supported by the right partners.

Simone Hammer is the Global Marketing Manager, Learning Solutions, Barco

Useful resources:
AACSB Insights
AACSB Insights publishes perspectives from leading voices in global business education, the latest business school data and insights, and views on the current and future state of business.
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