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IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain

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IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain
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IESE Business School, one of the world’s renown international business schools, with campuses in Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, New York and São Paulo has pioneered business education in Europe since its founding. For sixty years, IESE has trained business leaders with solid business skills, a global mindset and a desire to make a positive impact on society. Recently the school installed the first Virtual Classroom in Barcelona, an add-on of weConnect, Barco’s cloud-based SaaS solution to make their remote education sessions even more interactive and engaging.

IESE distinguishes itself in its general-management approach, extensive use of the case method, international outreach, and emphasis on placing people at the heart of managerial decision-making. The ability to facilitate enriching, real-time discussions with students was key in their search for a future-proof remote learning method. IESE wanted to move beyond the webinar and beyond off-the-shelf software and find a more mature and collaborative online teaching setting. Barco Education partnered up with IESE to create an innovative custom-made technological solution that perfectly catered IESE’s need for a discussion-based approach in teaching and learning.

Just like in a normal classroom: user experience matters

The fear of losing the strength of human interaction like in face-to-face classroom teaching was completely overthrown by the first lessons taught in IESE’s Virtual Classroom. “If people laugh in a virtual setting, that’s a clear sign that the setting in which you work, perfectly transmits those aspects of the human relation needed in a classroom experience,” comments Associate Professor of Information Systems Evgeny Káganer. The new interactive, collaborative solution, designed to host up to 80 people in the classroom, gives teacher and students a complete experience, crossing borders and overcoming the boundaries of a physical classroom with technology. Teachers are interacting with actual persons, not talking into a black box and a true global conversation is a reality.

The flow of teaching is not undermined by the virtual session, participants are just as engaged or even more so, which only shows the huge potential of a Virtual Classroom. The quality of the sessions is high since the audio-visual production is similar to that of a broadcast production. “Technology makes things easier. It’s easier to see faces, names, the raising of hands. There is focus on content, there are real discussions enhanced with interactivity features like polls and quizzes.”

The executive education experience is changing

Giuseppe Auricchio, executive director of the IESE Learning Innovation Unit comments, “The Virtual Classroom allows us to overcome some of the more common obstacles in executive learning: namely, the time and expense involved with travel, which limits the use of face-to face learning. With the Virtual Classroom, we can now extend learning experiences over time, by blending face-to-face with online learning. The partnership with Barco has a huge impact on the types of learning experiences that we can design and offer our students."
IESE is planning to use the new technology in the majority of its programmes as a reinforcement of face-to-face teaching at its five campuses. Thousands of people will experience the new classroom in the coming year, benefiting from this innovation in executive education.