A new online knowledge platform at INSEAD promises to reinvent how business schools deliver insights to create impact for global organisations.
With the launch of its Customised Online Programmes this year, INSEAD continues to extend its pioneering contributions to management education. The latest innovation is designed to be a robust catalyst for efficient and effective organisational change. Aimed at experienced professionals seeking fresh skills to meet today’s global challenges, the offering provides an unparalleled custom learning programme combining the best digital tools and INSEAD’s thought leadership.
INSEAD has earned an exceptional reputation as an executive education leader since introducing customised executive programmes in 1968. The school’s traditional portfolio of executive education courses remains a vibrant, important part of INSEAD’s curriculum. With this new platform, though, the school is consolidating its strengths to transform how practitioners gain the knowledge to stay ahead of a business world undergoing massive transformation. The programme is highly customisable to address company-specific challenges and can be rolled out quickly to fit in the transformation timeline. It’s also highly scalable to reach anywhere from 50 to 1,000 participants, including 1,000 employees from Microsoft, a client that was part of the initiative’s 2014 pilot phase. Now INSEAD is working with Accenture to design a custom online course expected to rollout in April and attract up to 3,000 participants over the next 18 months.
By building on INSEAD’s success in bridging academic theory with business practise, this online learning delivers effective learning via multiple interactions that meets the expectations of today’s managers. “We’ve worked out a core set of building blocks, which we’ve then worked with the client to assemble into a programme that meets their needs,” says Deputy Dean Peter Zemsky, who played a leadership role in developing the initiative. “In addition, each individual piece can be customised to the particular objectives of the client.”
Perhaps the most impressive testimonial is the programme’s completion rate. While most digital courses, including MOOCs, average less than 10 percent completion, the INSEAD offering boasts rates of more than 80 percent. One reason is the programme’s excellent quality. But the way this knowledge is structured and delivered is important, too. INSEAD designed its digital custom offerings to meet the needs and lifestyles of busy global executives, especially mid-career professionals whose demanding schedules have them in constant motion.
“Our online solution really enables you to pick up the concepts wherever you are and whenever you are ready to learn,” says Chengyi Lin, Director of Strategic Initiatives. That means that on-the-go participants can easily and seamlessly access INSEAD thought leadership on their mobile phones and laptops, as well as at home or in the office.
High interactivity represents another advantage of the programme. The goal is to engage the learners via multiple means and share the learning experience with each other, says Professor Zemsky, who adds that highly interactive quizzes, polls and discussion forums are all integrated into the programme to create a rich intellectual experience that motivates students. “Motivation has been a key part of our design, and one way to increase this was to create content directly relevant to what’s going on in the participants’ companies,” says Zemsky. Other motivational aspects of the experience tap into social media, including LinkedIn, to let students identify themselves as participants in the programme, earning points and badges upon completion.
Likewise, the programme encourages participants to solve real challenges in their companies by applying INSEAD insights through special action-oriented projects. INSEAD’s design team works with clients to design projects that are immediately relevant to the participant’s job and responsibilities. The design of these projects also aims at creating opportunities for behaviour and mind-set change, in support of the overall transformational journey. Making this connection is crucial, and such rigor and relevance has long been part of the school’s mission.
“Our faculty are not just academics; they’re really close to business,” says Mark Roberts, Associate Dean for Executive Education. “They really enjoy engaging with clients to understand how can they use the INSEAD executive education experience to shift the capabilities of the entire organisation,”
This relationship puts INSEAD faculty on the front lines of management practise to gain deep understanding of the client’s challenges—including those that can dramatically alter the competitive landscape and business model. “Today’s corporate leaders face incredible challenges that require them to make radical changes in their organisations,” says Professor Zemsky. “There’s no better way to do that than through an effective and efficient customised executive education experience that really gives the people the new tools, the new way of thinking that they need to execute on the new strategy.”
INSEAD has made significant investments in online learning, which enabled the school to develop the pilot programme with Microsoft very quickly: initial conversations with the client occurred in April 2014 with a contract signed the following month, online videos filmed over the summer, and the course launched in October. While this arena represents an exciting new development in the school’s long history of executive education, it won’t displace INSEAD’s existing offerings. Rather, it will complement them.
“We’re very excited about the potential of the online programme to reach new clients in fresh ways through a scalable and cost-effective model. There’s real growth potential here,” says Zemsky. “At the same time, we are just as excited about our traditional in-person executive education courses. The new online offering enables clients of our in-person programmes to cascade their learning deep down into their organisations. The two offers complement each other perfectly.”
The online programme’s early success is generating additional interest from several other potential clients. As INSEAD builds this new capability to create value in the custom, company-specific market, it’s also exploring other ways to apply the online platform to enhance student and alumni experiences across degree programmes.
“We’re in the early days of seeing how far we can push this technology,” says Professor Zemsky, “but we see enormous potential.”