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MIP Gives Digital Learning Revolution A Jolt With New Online EMBA

Program backs trend of industry practitioners as biz teachers

Mon Feb 29 2016

Advances in technology are changing the face of business. With the internet, international business networks have become more interconnected. Senior executives travel across continents, rarely staying in one place for more than a week at a time.

With this in mind, Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano has launched the new International Flex EMBA in partnership with WOBI, the World of Business Ideas.

The predominantly online program offers fully immersive, virtual classroom lessons using a Microsoft-based learning platform, which mirrors the digital environment used by most managers and executives in business today.

Yammer is its social tool, Outlook its calendar and Skype for Business runs its live sessions.

Yet it is the partnership with WOBI — a vast, online library of speeches on leadership, strategy and innovation, which are delivered by some of the world’s leading influencers — which really positions the program ahead of the curve.

“It is absolutely untrue that in 10 years’ time we’ll have business schools with professors teaching in the traditional way,” says Federico Frattini, MBA and EMBA division director at MIP.

“The role of the business school professor will become more [like] that of a mentor, coach or interpreter,” he continues. It will be about “building bridges in between disciplines”.

The International Flex EMBA — an extension of MIP’s popular Italy-based Flex EMBA — is the first pioneering step in this direction. Students and professors will discuss what lessons that can be learnt from the likes of Richard Branson, Steve Wozniak, Francis Ford Coppola and thousands of other influential speakers in the WOBI network.

For Federico, the new EMBA is leading a trend towards reducing the number of faculty professors and increasing the number of managers teaching in executive education programs.

Only the use of an online platform can facilitate such initiatives. Yet while Federico anticipates a “real upsurge in schools launching EMBAs online”, in general he does not see online programs as threatening the traditional business school model.

“The target market is different,” he says. “Based on what we’ve seen in our school, people doing traditional MBA or EMBA programs would never take a digital MBA or EMBA, and the other way around.”

This may be down to the way MIP’s programs integrate the physical and virtual worlds.

Around 20% of MIP’s International Flex EMBA is conducted offline. On “international weeks” in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, students will profit from outdoor team bonding activities, soft skills training, mentoring and careers advice.

Yet the use of digital platforms undoubtedly will play a critical role in the future of business education at MIP.

“The strategy is very clear,” says Federico. “We want to have our digital platform available for every student on every MBA and EMBA program, even those attending a traditional offline program.”