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Why You’ll Be Liquid Learning On Your MBA After COVID-19

IE Business School developed a new model of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the needs of international students. Here’s why that liquid learning model is here to stay


Thu Jun 17 2021

International students make up around 95% of IE Business School's MBA class. While that's great for class diversity and the intercultural learning that's the lure for so many business school applicants, it's less great when a global pandemic restricts international travel and leaves many students scattered around the world. 

COVID-19 posed a huge new challenge to the school: How do you deliver an on campus MBA education when half your students aren't in the classroom?

The answer is liquid learning. IE University launched a new teaching model midway through 2020. Based on cutting-edge edtech and driven by innovative faculty members, the evidence-based education method develops students' skills, expertise, and mindset, by blending virtual and in-person teaching. 

Now the model is here to stay.

Using EdTech to survive COVID-19

IE had to act quickly to serve its international student population. Liquid learning was created to allow all students the same immersive experience, no matter where they are in the world, or at what time they are studying.

Lessons can be delivered asynchronously and synchronously; at home, in-person, or both.  IE also provides a mixture of curricular and extracurricular activities to all students. The idea is that you can fluidly move from one learning state to another, hence the term liquid. 

The system uses a variety of cutting-edge education technologies. The school upgraded cameras and microphones in classrooms to make the remote experience as seamless as possible. Now, remote students are shown on a large screen within the classroom—as if they were there in person—and the school has even used virtual reality to bring remote students into class.   


With students able to attend class at the same time, they can interact and talk with professors as if they were in the classroom together. One of the core principles of liquid learning is collaboration, and students are encouraged to work together in groups no matter where they are in the world. 

IE Business School also recently announced plans for a new Liquid Learning Center. The center will continue the work that began when the school adapted to survive as the coronavirus pandemic swept aside traditional on-campus higher education.

“It gives us so much more flexibility for learning in different ways,” says Paula Robles, executive director of MBA programs at IE. 

Incorporating edtech into the learning experience has proved successful, and now as IE plans for life after the pandemic, the school has decided to continue liquid learning and develop the sophistication of the experience. 

“Since we have technology that enables us to do things in better ways, we will use it,” says Paula.  

Why liquid learning is the future of business education

Remote learning became more sophisticated during the pandemic. Investment in edtech grew as high as $12 billion in 2020, and IE believes the days of learning entirely in-person are gone. 

The school does offer an online MBA program, which has been ranked second in the Financial Times Global Online MBA rankings since 2018, but it feels a liquid approach utilising the lates edtech is more appropriate for the current climate. 

Investors are clearly aware of the growing trend in education technologies. In the US, edtech ventures raised $803 million in funding during 2020, while in India the figure was almost double at $1.4 billion. By 2025, the rising global market for edtech is expected to reach $181.3 billion, bringing with it a wave of innovative new teaching methods.

“I expect that 50% of all executive education programs will be online or blended,” says Nick van Dam (pictured below), chief learning officer and chair of IE Univesity's center for liquid learning

With remote working a prominent part of the curriculum, the in-person experience will still be needed for things like networking, informal connections, and culture building, Nick says.

He compares a blended approach to learning with the differing experiences of attending a sports or music event online and in-person. Both offer their own benefits which suit certain individuals more than others. 

“Online is often more convenient and lower cost. Still, many people prefer going to a concert hall or soccer stadium. Why? It’s all about the experience,” says Nick.


Taking Liquid Learning global 

IE plans to expand liquid learning to become an entirely new educational discipline by embracing edtech and adopting new technologies as soon as they emerge. 

As edtech develops, all universities will have to go through a change, Nick believes. The Liquid Learning Center will be the driving force behind IE's journey through that change. 

“Huge innovations are ahead of us in terms of platform and content,” he says. “IE’s vision is to continue to advance its learning technology architecture—adopting a ‘plug and play’ approach.”

As the school innovates, adopts new technologies, and further develops the student experience, the new center for liquid learning will showcase the journey, giving examples of how IE is adopting new technologies, as well as hosting conferences and webinars around the new teaching method.

Educational resources and research into liquid learning will be freely available to all, and the center will also provide access to scientists working on the discipline. 

IE hopes the center will promote the discipline beyond the school and create a global community around it, helping the school drive a new form of education and cement the liquid MBA model as a permanent part of the school's educational offering. 

“We are doing this because we believe that knowledge and best practises sharing is part of our purpose and role in society,” says Nick.  

Student Reviews

IE Business School




On Campus

My Review

Madrid Is incredible, I've had a fantastic time at IE University. I've had some excellent lecturers overall. They sincerely want the students to flourish and are concerned about developing a personal relationship with them. Having said that, students typically must fulfil their half of the contract by putting in the necessary work and demonstrating a desire to achieve success.




On Campus

Coming Master

I spent 1 semester on my Erasmus during my BBA trip. This was the great experience and after that I decode to enroll for the master program there. I must say that the only disappointing fact is connected to distribution of the students. Master students are being connected to the old campus what is not fully fail.




On Campus

Former BBA

As the former BBA student I can say that the level of the learning is quite high. In addition the place (IE Tower) is probably one of the most innovative and networking-support place in the Europe. I totally recoupment this Uni for business students.




On Campus

International focus

IE university has a global perspective and attracts a highly diverse student body, with students from all over the world. This international environment fosters cross-cultural understanding and prepares students to work in a globalized world. This is same for the faculty members as well, the university's faculty members are from diverse parts of the world and are reputable. they are not only experts in their fields but are also often actively engaged in research and industry. Their practical experience and academic expertise create a stimulating learning environment.




On Campus

Loved it

IE University, in my experience as a student, stands out as an outstanding institution for higher education. Its international perspective is a major strength, evident in the diverse student body that represents a multitude of countries and cultures. Interacting with such a global community has broadened my horizons and deepened my understanding of various subjects, providing a rich and comprehensive educational experience. The quality of the faculty at IE University is exceptional. Many professors bring real-world experience to the classroom, making the learning process more practical and relevant. This approach not only enhances engagement with coursework but also ensures that students are well-prepared for their future careers. The accessibility of professors and their willingness to engage with students personally fosters a collaborative and supportive learning environment. Practical learning is another significant advantage at IE University. The integration of real-world projects, internships, and case studies bridges the gap between theory and practice. This emphasis on hands-on experience equips students with practical skills and industry insights, making them more competitive in the job market. IE University offers a wide range of programs across various fields of study, making it a versatile choice for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. This diversity ensures that individuals can find a program that aligns with their academic and career interests. However, like any institution, IE University has its challenges. The cost of attending can be a major concern for some students, as tuition fees are relatively high. While scholarships and financial aid are available, not all students may qualify for them. This financial aspect is an important consideration, particularly for those with budget limitations. The competitive nature of some courses and programs can create a high-pressure environment. While competition can be motivating for some, it may also lead to stress for others. Maintaining high academic standards can be demanding, and students should strive for a balance between excellence and well-being. The workload can be quite challenging, especially for students undertaking double degrees or heavily involved in extracurricular activities. Effective time management is essential to manage academic demands while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In conclusion, I would recommend IE University to prospective students with specific considerations. If you value an international perspective, practical learning, and a diverse educational environment, IE University is an excellent choice. However, it's crucial to carefully weigh the tuition costs against the benefits and to be prepared for the competitive nature of some courses. Students should also be ready to handle a demanding workload. IE University has provided me with a rich and globally-focused education, equipping me for a career in an interconnected world. Ultimately, it's important to make an informed decision based on your educational and financial goals, along with a willingness to confront the challenges that may arise.




On Campus

Rather Exciting

As a student at IE University, enrolled in the Business Administration program, I can confidently say that my experience at this institution has been overwhelmingly positive. IE University's innovative approach to education stands out as one of its most remarkable features. The interactive classes and focus on critical thinking, particularly through the use of case studies, have significantly enhanced my ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world business scenarios. Additionally, the global perspective at IE University, fostered by the diverse student body and international faculty, has broadened my understanding of global business practices, which is crucial in the field of Business Administration. The university's strong industry connections have proven to be invaluable. These connections provide students with numerous internship opportunities and networking prospects, allowing us to gain practical experience and build professional relationships while still studying. Moreover, the comprehensive career support services offered by IE University, such as resume building, interview preparation, and job placement assistance, have been instrumental in preparing us for the job market. On the flip side, it's important to mention that tuition costs at IE University can be relatively high, which may pose a financial challenge for some students, even though there are scholarships and financial aid options available. Additionally, the programs at IE University can be intensive, demanding a significant time commitment, which might not align with everyone's preferences. In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend IE University to individuals considering a degree in Business Administration. The innovative teaching methods, global perspective, strong industry connections, and comprehensive career support make it an excellent choice for those aspiring to enter the world of business. However, prospective students should be aware of the financial considerations and be prepared for the intensive nature of the programs. If you're willing to invest in your education and are dedicated to your studies, IE University offers an exceptional and enriching educational experience in the field of Business Administration.




On Campus

A Decent Experience

I've had the privilege of being a student at IE University, where I've been pursuing a degree in arts. My experience at IE University has been highly rewarding and unique. One of the aspects I appreciate the most is the university's strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. The opportunity to collaborate with students from diverse fields, including business, technology, and social sciences, has enriched my artistic endeavors. This cross-pollination of ideas has added depth and diversity to my creative work. IE University's international perspective is another significant advantage. The institution's diverse student body and faculty from various corners of the world have broadened my artistic horizons and encouraged me to think more globally. In the field of arts, where cultural influences play a pivotal role, this global outlook has been invaluable. The university also invests in modern resources and technology, providing students with access to cutting-edge software, creative tools, and state-of-the-art facilities. These resources have allowed me to explore new mediums and techniques, pushing the boundaries of my creativity. Furthermore, IE University places a strong emphasis on practical experiences. This practical orientation has given me insights into the professional art world and how to navigate it effectively. Opportunities for internships and collaborations with art institutions have been instrumental in bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world application. On the downside, tuition costs at IE University can be relatively high, which may pose a financial challenge for some prospective students. Additionally, the university's programs are quite intensive, demanding a substantial time commitment and strong time management skills. In conclusion, I would wholeheartedly recommend IE University to students seeking an arts education with an interdisciplinary and global perspective. The institution's innovative resources, practical experiences, and international approach have significantly enriched my artistic journey. Nevertheless, it's crucial to consider the financial aspect and be prepared for the demanding nature of the programs. If you're willing to invest in your arts education and are committed to hard work, IE University offers a truly unique and rewarding artistic experience.




On Campus

A Great Experience

As a student at IE University studying architecture, I have a unique perspective on the institution. Let me share my thoughts on this university: Overall, my experience at IE University has been quite positive. The university's commitment to a holistic education, combined with its innovative approach to learning, has made my time here rewarding. Here are some key aspects I appreciate: Interdisciplinary Approach: IE University places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. In the field of architecture, this means I've had the opportunity to collaborate with students from various backgrounds, such as engineering, business, and design. It's been enlightening to work on projects that integrate different disciplines, mirroring the real-world scenarios architects often find themselves in. Faculty and Industry Connections: The professors at IE University are experienced professionals in their respective fields, and they bring a wealth of practical knowledge into the classroom. This has greatly enriched my architectural education. Additionally, the university's strong connections with industry professionals and firms provide students with valuable networking opportunities and potential internships. Global Perspective: IE University's international approach to education is a significant advantage. I've had the chance to collaborate with students from all over the world, which has broadened my cultural awareness and global perspective. This is particularly important in architecture, as it's a field where global influences and trends play a significant role. Innovation and Technology: The university's commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements is impressive. In architecture, this means access to cutting-edge software, tools, and resources, which have been instrumental in my academic and design work. On the flip side, there are a few aspects that might not suit everyone: Tuition Costs: IE University is a private institution, and as such, tuition can be on the higher side. This might be a challenge for some students, but there are scholarship opportunities and financial aid options available. Intensive Programs: The university's programs are often quite intensive, requiring a significant time commitment. While this can be beneficial for learning, it can also be demanding, so time management skills are crucial. In conclusion, I would certainly recommend IE University to those interested in studying architecture. Its unique approach to education, international perspective, and strong industry connections have enriched my architectural journey. Just keep in mind the financial considerations and be prepared to put in the effort, and you'll find a stimulating and rewarding academic experience at IE University.




On Campus

A Global and Innovative Learning Experience

IE University is a dynamic and innovative institution that has gained recognition for its unique approach to education. There are several aspects that make it stand out, and while it may not be the perfect fit for everyone, it certainly has a lot to offer. One of the notable strengths of IE University is its commitment to fostering a global perspective. The university attracts a diverse student body from all over the world, creating a rich multicultural environment. This diversity enriches the classroom experience and prepares students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. The emphasis on international exposure through study abroad programs, exchange partnerships, and a global network of alumni further enhances this global outlook. IE University is also known for its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. The institution places a strong emphasis on practical, real-world learning experiences that encourage students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. This approach aligns well with the demands of the modern job market, where creativity and adaptability are highly valued. Furthermore, IE University's faculty is often comprised of professionals with extensive industry experience, providing students with valuable insights and connections in their respective fields. The small class sizes enable more personalized attention, fostering a close-knit community and facilitating meaningful interactions between students and professors. However, no university is without its drawbacks, and IE University is no exception. One potential downside is the cost of tuition, which can be relatively high compared to some public institutions. While scholarships and financial aid options are available, this cost may still be a barrier for some prospective students. Another consideration is the intensity of the academic programs. IE University is known for its rigorous curriculum, and students often find themselves facing a demanding workload. While this can be an advantage for those who thrive in a challenging environment, it may not be suitable for individuals seeking a more relaxed college experience. In conclusion, IE University is an excellent choice for students who are looking for a globally oriented, innovative, and academically rigorous education. Its emphasis on entrepreneurship, international exposure, and practical learning experiences can prepare students for success in a competitive job market. However, the high cost of tuition and the demanding nature of the programs should be carefully considered. Ultimately, whether IE University is the right fit depends on the individual's goals and preferences, but for those who are up to the challenge, it can be a rewarding and transformative educational experience.




On Campus

The liquid learning method

I do like my program so much, since it gives me the possibility to develop my own personal skills while building a strong professional cv with plenty of extracurricular material. The amenities are extraordinary and the campus is super professional and convenient for networking!