ON MARCH 23, the state of Louisiana issued a stay-at-home order for residents. That was the same day that Louisiana Tech University’s College of Business in Ruston was to conduct its peer review team visit with AACSB International to maintain its accreditation. As students began leaving campus and faculty and staff were encouraged to work from home, the school took just four days to convert its peer review team visit to a virtual format. The college was able to conduct the meeting remotely—four meetings ran simultaneously in Zoom breakout rooms, involving more than 100 students, faculty, and staff.
That’s the speed with which schools are having to transform not only their courses, but everything they do, says Chris Martin, the school’s dean. “It has been truly inspiring,” he says. “I continue to be amazed at how well everyone is adapting to our ‘new normal.’”
While the pandemic presented extraordinary challenges to business schools, many educators also are seeing unexpected benefits. That includes Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of the Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) in Greater Noida, India. He notes that before the pandemic, many educators, including those at BIMTECH, had not known what they were capable of achieving.
Chaturvedi believes that the school’s faculty, students, and staff have learned that they can face any crisis as long as they are agile and resilient, can quickly learn and adapt, and stay committed to serving their communities. Going forward, he adds, emphasis on these three aspects will serve as the foundation of the business continuity plan for BIMTECH. “Every b-school should formulate a business continuity plan and devise an adequate number of resilient strategies.”
The stories coming out of business schools, and all of higher education, have been both inspiring and eye-opening. While certain learning and administrative objectives will always be best achieved in face-to-face formats, the last few months have shown educators how much is possible when their traditional methods and procedures are stripped away.
Below, six schools share solutions they quickly devised to keep their programs going, even after their campuses were closed. Their stories represent just a small sampling of the comprehensive ways that business schools have had to reinvent their programs. But together their experiences offer a glimpse into how much the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to transform higher education in the months ahead.
By Weston C. Hyde and Bret Crane
Students take the lead in converting a case competition to a virtual format.
By Harivansh Chaturvedi, Ajoy K. Dey, and Nimisha Singh
Providing hands on learning to students—even under lockdown.
By Lisa Barley
A reinvented class assignment highlights just how creative and adaptable our students can be.
By Chris Martin
An existing disaster plan made all the difference.
By Thad Kelling
Our biggest lesson: don't do something just because it is the way it has always been done.
By Hessa Alfadhel, Yomna Abdulla, Waleed Abdulaziz, and Hatem Masri
This is a great time for us to push beyond limiting beliefs of what business education can be.