On March 18th, Portugal, like many other countries around the world, declared a state of emergency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and went into a state of lockdown.
Restaurants, museums, universities alike pulled down their shutters, without knowing when they might once again reopen.
Behind the shutters, the team at The Lisbon MBA Catolica | Nova began to make their transition online, as a way of ensuring that every one of their students would get access to the same education and experience as they had been before the pandemic reached Portugal.
We spoke to the school about how they are adapting to life under lockdown.
How has the Lisbon MBA adapted to the current lockdown?
We have two classes from the Executive MBA program and one class from the International MBA, with different schedules and different expectations. So our decisions had to accommodate the different needs of the three students’ groups.
A task force was put together as soon as the lockdown started to take place. This included the Lisbon MBA team, school representatives, teachers and students, who worked together to transition to an online environment.
This was quite effective and allowed for an almost non-existent gap between the on-campus classes and the online classes. This is particularly relevant if we think that our faculty had to adapt and adjust the courses’ content to the new online delivery mode, without losing focus on what is important for an MBA course.
We also had to make sure that the chosen platform for delivering online classes had all the requirements necessary to guarantee that our students would have the best access possible to classes and contents.
How have students and faculty adjusted to the transition online?
This being a completely new situation, we are adjusting on a daily basis, always mindful of the overall evolution of the situation, in Portugal and worldwide.
All our faculty maintains a close relationship with our students and this has always been a distinctive factor of our program. Also there was a strong effort from all professors to adapt and optimize the courses’ contents, so the learning process could be maintained.
In a normal context, an important aspect of our MBA program are the interactions that occur inside and outside the classroom. So we knew this was something we could not overlook.
We had to guarantee that in the online environment our classes had the same level of interactivity and participation, as much as that was possible. And that was a concern not only of The Lisbon MBA management team, but also of our faculty.
What are the main tools you are using to deliver the MBA?
We already used an online platform, where students find all the materials and resources used in the courses. Regarding the online classes, we chose Microsoft Teams—it was easier to do the transition and also our students were already using it.
Do you think there might be certain aspects of teaching that work better online?
We have been receiving some feedback from our students and our faculty that makes us believe that we will be using more of our online resources. Until now, online was an option but maybe, for some specific situations, it will become the norm.
We are gathering all the insights and experiences we are living and to make them useful in a nearby future, improving the overall MBA experience we offer.
Tailor-made webinars, online meetings and workshops with keynote speakers are some examples of events that show that online is also a valuable learning moment.
For example, our Leadership Program coordinators have been providing meaningful content on a weekly basis for all students (interesting reads, motivational talks, mindfulness exercises). All of these are possible in a digital context.