The Future of Learning: Role of Technology in Modern Business Education

Arvind Sahay joined MDI as Director and Professor of Marketing and International Business in October 2023. Prior to MDI, he served as faculty at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (from 2004) and at London Business School (from 1996) since his Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of Texas at Austin. His primary areas of interest include marketing strategy, pricing, neuro- science and consumer behavior, brand management, high-tech marketing, and international trade and investment.

In a conversation with Charulatha, Correspondent, Siliconindia Magazine, Arvind discussed how technology transforms business education, enhances learning with tools, and fosters collaborative online environments.

Technology impacting the traditional methods of teaching in business education
1) In the student engagement process: Tools such as simulations, labs (e.g., modeling labs) and asynchronous content will considerably influence the teaching and learning process. I believe that this kind of active learning approach promotes better understanding and retention of information. Talking about ‘modeling labs’, these allow students to explore and manipulate models to simulate real-world scenarios, that actually helps them apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations, fostering deeper comprehension.

A second area of technology that is important is IT related and has to do with the ability to access, evaluate, understand, synthesize and deploy information in business processes through technologies such as Gen AI, blockchain, multi-modal data analytics, IOT, etc. These would need to be built into the content. Similarly, tools that improve our ability to access, evaluate, understand, synthesize and deploy information about human behavior should also be deployed.

Asynchronous content, such as pre-recorded lectures, enables students to access learning materials at their own pace and convenience, giving them a certain flexibility.

(2) In the student skill set requirement: Students will need to be tech savvy at a higher level with every succeeding batch that graduates - a certain level of tech tools savviness will be a hygiene factor going forward. The most sought-after graduates will be those that combine tech savviness with human behavior skilfulness. For management students, this translates into familiarity with technologies and the ability to access, evaluate, understand, synthesize and deploy information related to business processes and human behavior.

Effectiveness of technology-based tools in facilitating learning outcomes in business education
Technology based tools such as Gen AI and blockchain are already providing a measurable improvement in performance of business processes. However, their impact on learning outcomes is less clear at this stage…we will learn as we go along. I suspect, though that some neuro-tools such as EEG and fMRI will help to assess the learning outcomes but early stages yet. I believe such tools can provide valuable insights into the cognitive processes and neural mechanisms associated with learning. In the context of business education, these tools can contribute to a deeper understanding of how individuals learn, process information, and make decisions. EEG gauges engagement, attention, and cognitive load, aiding educators in optimizing instructional methods. fMRI identifies neural patterns associated with decision-making and memory, offering insights into cognitive processes during learning. In the coming times, we will gather more knowledge and I think these tools will be able to offer us personalized learning paths that accommodate individual cognitive styles. Here I will like to mention that the ethical considerations must guide their application, ensuring responsible use and there has to be a collaboration between neuroscience and education experts for meaningful integration into the learning environment.

Technology based tools such as Gen AI and blockchain are already providing a measurable improvement in performance of business processes

Technology influencing the behaviour and collaboration among students in a business education program
Will enable collaboration at a distance with greater facility. For example, it will be possible to have courses that are built around a project that small groups of students across institutions will do. The start of the project may be at a distance, while some part of the project would be done on site.

"Management institutions may need to figure out the best forms of collaboration with Ed tech firms as a case in point"

Collaborative and inclusive online learning environment in business education
A greater engagement with industry will be required. Management institutions may need to figure out the best forms of collaboration with Ed tech firms as a case in point. If we have to draw inspiration, as I said, from leading ed-tech firms, I derive that they prioritize user-centric design, innovative technology integration, and constant adaptation to meet diverse learner needs. We are looking at the not-so-secret ingredients – clearer communication, inclusive language and leveraging diverse learning materials. Providing constructive feedback, recognizing different perspectives – all these matters. Key to great engagement is a mix of many aspects, that ought to be a constant quest. If offering faculty support and accessibility is important, so can be an aspect of, say creating a sense of community through forums and social platforms. By embracing diverse strategies, educators can emulate successful approaches and enhance the online learning experience.

Latest technological trends and their relevance to business education
Some schools are considering the inclusion of a technology and business kind of a course as a core course for students just like a generation ago, a course on strategic management brought together many aspects of the functional disciplines for students as a part of the core courses... a course that connects technologies specifically to business outcomes is probably warranted. Harvard Business School offers courses like ‘Digital Innovation and Transformation’ that explore the impact of technology on business models and strategies. I believe so does Stanford, Wharton, LBS and a few other Ivy league institutes.

As industries evolve, the symbiotic relationship between technology and business becomes increasingly integral. Such curriculum inclusion will help empower students to navigate digital landscapes, innovate strategically, and align technological advancements with organizational objectives. By instilling a tech-savvy business mindset, we need to prepare our future leaders to harness the full potential of digital tools. In today’s landscape where technology shapes market dynamics, I believe this integration will ensure that graduates possess the acumen to drive impactful decisions, optimize processes, and secure sustainable success in the dynamic intersection of technology and business.