May 11, 2014 7:03 pm

The pros and cons of online learning

Education key with graduation hat icon on laptop keyboard©Dreamstime

Survey highlights benefits and drawbacks of online learning

Just how much is online learning on the rise in executive education? asks Wai Kwen Chan. In 2011, 42 per cent of respondents to an FT poll of open-enrolment course participants said that none of the teaching and related assessments was conducted online. That figure stays the same in this year’s poll of more than 470 respondents.

Fifty-one per cent of those whose programmes included online elements said that these accounted for less than 25 per cent of the course. Some 80 per cent of respondents wanted online content in future courses.

The main benefits of online learning cited in the recent survey are flexibility, convenience, cost and time savings. The main drawbacks were a lack of interaction with other participants and teaching staff and fewer networking opportunities. Other concerns were quality of teaching, lack of learning support and the level of self-discipline required.

One respondent wrote:

“I can see the potential for online learning for some types of skills and knowledge. However, much of the value of executive education is learning from other participants and training staff, for example in role play and interactive exercises. I struggle to see how this could be delivered in an online environment.”

. . .

Managing conflict at Ferrero

It is difficult to imagine more than a ripple of discord at a luxury chocolate company known for adverts set at an ambassador’s diplomatic parties, writes Charlotte Clarke. But managing conflict is among the topics on a course designed for senior managers at Ferrero, developed with Spain’s Iese Business School. Other subjects include change management, leading and developing high-performing teams and “self-leadership”, all tailored to the company’s culture.

. . .

Leadership tops companies’ concerns

The biggest challenge faced by global companies in the next three years is their leadership capabilities, according to the latest annual survey by Henley Business School, writes Della Bradshaw.

Seventy-one per cent of the 359 respondents said leadership was a challenge, compared with 57 per cent who were concerned about managing costs and just 36 per cent about global competition.

There is also an increasing sense of collective leadership, says Steve Ludlow, head of executive education at Henley, part of the University of Reading. “The organisational culture is developed by leaders at all levels of the company,” he says.

. . .

Sets and the city: fake town built for training

Baruzia

Baruzia has been developed on a film set in San Diego

Welcome to Baruzia! Where? Baruzia, a fictional country modelled on the rapidly developing economies in Asia or Africa, writes Della Bradshaw.

But this is not the latest Hollywood sci-fi movie, fantasy TV blockbuster or shoot-em-up video game franchise. Baruzia will be home for five days to a group of 24 up-and-coming executives enrolled on the latest development programme from Duke Corporate Education.

Baruzia has been developed on a film set in San Diego. Ironically, this extreme fantasy world, where some 50 actors populate the offices, marketplace and government buildings, is intended to immerse course participants in a “real life” environment.

But as Mike Canning, president of Duke CE, explains, Baruzia has been created to take executives out of their comfort zone to help them deal with the challenges business now faces. “Challenges are less familiar, knowledge is less reliable. We need to create a place for people to practice so they can change the business.”

Traditional executive courses no longer fit the bill, he says. “The level and type of change that is occurring is not what we have trained people for. We can’t sit people down and teach them a few things and everything will be OK.”

The Baruzia simulation is just one week in an 18-week programme developed by Duke CE and known as Quest. In the programme participants will combine online study and a company project with two immersions: the fantasy world of Baruzia and the real world of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. Duke CE has worked with cultural anthropologists, neuroscientists and negotiation specialists to develop the programme.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

SHARE THIS QUOTE