In January the Graduate Management Admission Council held their annual Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  More than 150 Deans, Program Directors and other senior professionals from Business Schools around the world gathered for three days to discuss core industry issues, share insights and learn from each other.  The best attended session for the Thursday late-morning workshop slot was run by Ososim’s Director Elisa Alabaster, entitled “How Technology is Disrupting Education”.  The interactive work session elicited lively input and participation from the 50 attendees.

The session opened with a brief overview of some of the technological and societal trends affecting the world of business and education, most of which were already familiar to the majority of attendees.  Being confronted with the entire gamut of change facing the industry could feel overwhelming to some.  However, participants drew on the breadth of experience in the room to focus on specific challenges, as well as real initiatives already in place at some schools, providing feedback and data.  The topics that the attendees chose to discuss in smaller groups were the impact of new technologies on:

  • the use of social media to reach out to and recruit students;
  • effectively and efficiently evaluating and assessing talent and performance;
  • increasing access for a wider and more diverse student population while maintaining the transformational business school experience;
  • keeping up with the needs of business employers regarding new areas such as digital marketing;
  • the necessity to speed up the introduction of new subjects in the curriculum and amongst faculty;
  • bridging the disconnect gap between the needs of business and the tyranny of school rankings.

From the perspective of an entrepreneur and business practitioner, Elisa encouraged the workshop participants to apply innovation techniques used in fast prototyping and agile systems in their own thinking for their institutions.  The goal was for the attendees to leave the session with an idea for a “small experiment” related to one of the topics that they could start in their organization in the next month.  The buzz in the room was palpable as the animated discussions flowed over into lunch conversations and business school leaders concentrated on the new perspectives these disruptive technologies can offer.