IF 2020 HAS taught working professionals anything, it’s this: What they learned as undergraduate and graduate students will not be enough to see them through their entire careers. As more professionals head back to class, they’ll be looking for learning experiences that are decidedly different from those offered to traditional college students.
Serving lifelong learners is the inspiration behind the Alternative Learning Platform developed by EGADE Business School in Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. Launched earlier this year, the platform offers learning in four categories. EGADE Capsules is a collection of video presentations by faculty; these videos tackle topics such as management, entrepreneurship, and marketing. BootCamps are immersive 20-hour hands-on training programs that can be completed either online or remotely. The school currently offers three boot camps in entrepreneurship, design thinking, and user experience.
Live Online, the school’s digital learning platform, features specialized courses in emerging areas of interest such as digital marketing, data analytics, and the circular economy. Finally, the school is offering two six-course MicroMasters series on the edX learning platform. These massive open online programs are delivered in English and Spanish.
Students can incorporate content from the boot camps and capsules into the traditional curriculum, and those who complete a MicroMasters program can earn academic credit. The MicroMasters in negotiation and leadership has enrolled about 3,000 participants since it launched in January 2019, while the MicroMasters in entrepreneurship and innovation has enrolled about 800 participants.
“Learners now are managers of their own educations,” explains Laura Zapata, the school's academic associate dean. Recently, Zapata spoke to BizEd about delivering a new kind of learning to the market and attracting new audiences to EGADE’s programs.
What were you hearing from the market that sparked the creation of the Alternative Learning Platform?
We have found that the business leaders who comprise our community—students and alumni—constantly challenge themselves. They want to look for new forms of work, learn new skills, engage in business ventures, and generate shared value that transforms society. Moreover, the current dynamic and changing work environment requires business leaders to pursue lifelong learning. We wanted to offer them opportunities for continuous learning that relate to topical issues.
“OUR GOAL IS TO PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH FLEXIBILITY, ACCESSIBILITY, AND PERSONALIZATION.”—LAURA ZAPATA, EGADE
Did COVID-19 play a role in its creation?
We had been working on this platform for alternative credentials for quite some time, since before the global pandemic. But we will be adapting it to the needs of the 21st century. Our goal is to provide students with flexibility, accessibility, and personalization. We want to make it possible for them to acquire knowledge and develop the competencies they need whenever and wherever they need them.
How has the pandemic impacted your traditional graduate programs? What changes do you see in the near future for these programs?
Before the pandemic, we had implemented our Flexible Digital Model, which allowed us to adapt the teaching-learning process to diverse needs and situations, regardless of time- or space-related factors. We now offer what we call HyFlex+Tec, which allows students to choose whether to take classes fully online or via a hybrid format, depending on their circumstances.
Do you think the offerings on the Alternative Learning Platform will appeal to a different type of student than your MBA programs?
The platform is designed to accelerate training and make it easier for businesspeople and entrepreneurs to upskill and reskill. We believe that Alternative Learning and our academic programs complement each other, providing lifelong opportunities for all our audiences.
What have your faculty found to be most valuable in helping them deliver education effectively to working professionals and other adult learners?
Flexibility and collaboration with other colleagues, and opportunities to share the best practices they discover over coffee or through informal sessions. Through those connections, they are able to develop greater empathy with their students and create opportunities for new dynamics in their courses.
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