But since the launch of generative AI site ChatGPT in autumn 2022, interest in artificial intelligence has grown exponentially. Prospective students cite AI as the most desirable skill they seek to master at business school according to GMAC.
So how is this surge in demand for AI skills affecting the business school experience
Personalized AI support for students at business school
Imperial College Business School is using AI to provide a personalized business school experience, and to prepare students for their careers.
“Our approach is human-led but taking advantage of how an AI-powered business school can better prepare students for the world of tomorrow, and equips them with the leadership skills required,” says Leila Guerra, vice-dean of the school.
“We are piloting a new tool that combines human tutors and AI to provide personalised and immediate support to students,” she says. “AI gives feedback, answers questions and identifies learning gaps, while human tutors are directly available to offer guidance and clarification.
“AI can [also] analyse how well a student is doing and ensure the best learning experience accordingly” adds Leila, explaining that real-time AI translation services will also make education more accessible for students.
Ioannis Ioannou, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School, says that AI has the potential to revolutionize learning.
“By analyzing individual learning patterns, AI can adapt educational content and provide tailored feedback to each student (see, for example, the collaboration between OpenAI and the Khan Academy),” says Ioannis. “This not only accommodates each student's unique learning style but also recognizes and supports their progress at their own pace. This level of customization can improve student engagement, deepen understanding, and ultimately, enhance the overall learning outcome.”
Use of innovative learning tools such as VR
Some schools are already using VR and AR in the online classroom to simulate business scenarios.
Ioannis at LBS says: “AI can facilitate the creation of dynamic simulations and interactive exercises that mimic real-world scenarios (for example for classes on negotiations, or even business ethics). Such learning tools can foster a more engaging and hands-on learning experience.”
The benefits of pursuing such immersive experiences are far beyond a nice-to-have gimmick, says Leila at Imperial: “These [technologies] will help students develop further soft skills such as communication, negotiation and emotional intelligence that will become increasingly important as more information work is automated. Moreover, these simulations will provide a psychological safe space for students to learn and practice their new skills.”
Rapid design of program content
As it develops, generative AI will in time aid business schools to quickly draw together new programs to address upcoming challenges or business needs.
“By analyzing industry trends and evolving business scenarios, AI can help keep curriculums relevant, agile, and in line with the competencies required in the global business landscape,” says Ioannis.
At Imperial, Leila says that AI will help the school to “rapidly design new digital content and authentic experiences at scale”.
Learning to use AI with integrity
Despite the many advantages of AI, however, there are notes of caution being sounded at business schools.
Michael Barrett, professor of information systems & innovation studies at Cambridge Judge Business School says:
“ChatGPT in some ways provides amazing human-like replies, and what I wrestle with ethically is the idea of how it can be used to create very believable but inaccurate or misleading pieces of content – which can lead to disinformation and misinformation in a way that we haven't seen before. “This is a very interesting ethical and social dimension that will play out, and there’s no doubt that regulators will be involved in this.”
He adds: Another big issue involves copyright and IP protection – how do we protect Intellectual Property rights being violated as people develop works from these algorithms, and that’s something that both universities and business need to be involved with in the months and years ahead.”
At LBS, ensuring the appropriate use of generative AI in the classroom is a priority. Ioannis says the school places a high emphasis on academic integrity and has updated its policies to require that students explicitly reference the use of AI tools in their assignments. He adds: “We have also reintroduced the option of oral “viva” exams to ensure students understand what they have written.”
At Imperial, David Shrier, professor of practice (AI & innovation), says that understanding and knowing how to use AI is an essential skill for future business leaders:
“Democratised access to AI means that people from many more types of backgrounds are able to develop powerful AI solutions, which is part of why Goldman Sachs is predicting as much as US$ 7 trillion of global GDP growth from AI over the next decade. Attempting to ban AI from the classroom is analogous to efforts, decades ago, to ban scientific calculators.”
He is also positive about the use of AI tools in the classroom:
“In addition, the detection tools that many are using in an effort to spot student utilisation of genAI are notoriously unreliable, with a high false-positive rate. Instead of prohibiting AI, we should be teaching our students how to use these tools to amplify productivity. It is incumbent us to prepare our students for the new face of work that is emerging out of this AI revolution.”