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Embracing Digital Innovation in Business Education

Pedagogy at HEC Paris is reinventing itself, with professors experimenting with new ways to train and coach the leaders of tomorrow in a changing and challenging environment. Digital technology has dramatically changed learning over the past decade. What then is the future of higher education in this digital landscape? And how should a leading business school like HEC position itself in this changed landscape?

online education

Structure

Part 1
Embracing digital innovation in business education - The HEC Paris experience
Digital technology has dramatically changed learning over the past decade. With the internet, information on any topic is readily available at our fingertips. Excellent pedagogical content on a very broad range of topics can be found online for free. What then is the future of higher education in this digital landscape? And how should a leading business school like HEC position itself in this changing environment?
Part 2
How does technology transform business education and the learner’s experience?
Interview with Robin Ajdari, Chief Digital Officer, and Marc Vanhuele, Associate Dean, on how technology transforms business education and teaching in on-campus programs, and on the reasons why students should still come to campus if they will be able to learn everything online in the future.
Part 3
What do we teach online? A story of continuous innovation
Today, having numerous online programs at HEC Paris is the result of a history of continuous experimentations. Vanessa Klein, Digital Learning Director, unveils all the steps that brought online learning at HEC, from the Apple iTunes U platform to the first entirely online MSc, through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and online certificates for executives. Then Karine Le Joly, Director of Digital Learning Strategy and Innovation, shares her analysis of the evolution of MOOCs and of its effects on the online space for Executive Education.
Part 4
Focus on the 100% Online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: What are the challenges and keys for success?
The MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) is HEC’s first 100% online degree. It helps future and current business leaders successfully implement their innovation or entrepreneurial projects. We asked different key actors to understand the challenges and success of this first 100% HEC online degree.
Part 5
MOOCs and the promise of continuous personalized feedback: What research says
Can we address MOOCs’ low completion rate? Find how in this interview with Xitong Li, Associate Professor at HEC Paris, whose research focuses on how information or digital strategies can address new challenges.
Part 6
How online learning changed my teaching methods
In this article we share testimonials from our professors about their personal experience with online education.
Part 7
A successful flipped classroom experiment
Interview with Pascale Defline, Affiliate Professor, Accounting and Management Control department, about her flipped classroom experiment with the Grande Ecole "Accounting 2" course.
Part 8
Blended Learning format in the Grande Ecole program
Interview with Pascal Quiry, Affiliate Professor in the Finance Department, Author of Vernimmen, and BNP-Paribas Chair holder at HEC Paris.
Part 9
Robots can improve student learning, but can’t replace teachers
Telepresence robots are used at HEC in courses. In this interview, HEC Researcher Professor Sangseok You shares his insights on the utilization of robots in education.

Part 1

Embracing digital innovation in business education - The HEC Paris experience

Digital technology has dramatically changed learning over the past decade. With the internet, information on any topic is readily available at our fingertips. Excellent pedagogical content on a very broad range of topics can be found online for free. What then is the future of higher education in this digital landscape? And how should a leading business school like HEC position itself in this changing environment?

online education

Our objective with this section of Knowledge@HEC is to inspire our internal discussions on pedagogical innovation and to influence our daily practice. We also want to share our insights with the outside world. We combine stories on our past achievements with ideas for the future. Descriptions of what we did and testimonies of the actors who lived the experience. Contributions from faculty and staff, because digital pedagogy is group work. We examine why we take the digital route, how we approach the challenges and what we do concretely, both in terms of pedagogical practice and ongoing research. 

In September 2017, we launched the fully online MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE), targeted towards active professionals. Twenty-five professors contributed with online courses. I am one of them. Other colleagues have created online certificates, specializations and MOOCs. A recurring theme in our discussions since has been that the experience of creating an online course has fundamentally changed how we are teaching in the classroom. It even has changed how we see our role as professors. And it will change how institutions like ours will define and organize our work.

We examine why we take the digital route, how we approach the challenges and what we do concretely, both in terms of pedagogical practice and ongoing research. 

Marc Vanhuele Business Education HEC

 

The classroom is no longer a place to just transfer content. And only part of the learning takes place in that classroom. How then can we as faculty design a combination of activities that attains the learning objectives of our courses? And how can we as program directors and managers create an overall experience that, during their time at HEC, fully develops the potential of our already talented students? And where and how can digitalization be an enabler to reach our pedagogical objectives?

HEC has always been a place that encouraged individual innovation. Digitalization is a new challenge because it implies technological choices that have to be made at an institutional level. I hope that this section of Knowledge@HEC will stimulate your individual creativity and open up discussions on how we can transform education, make it more effective and reach more learners.

See structure

Part 2

How does technology transform business education and the learner’s experience?

Interview with Robin Ajdari, Chief Digital Officer, and Marc Vanhuele, Associate Dean, on how technology transforms business education and teaching in on-campus programs, and on the reasons why students should still come to campus if they will be able to learn everything online in the future.

Can you explain how exactly technology transforms business education? 

Marc Vanhuele, Associate Dean: Technology changes the business of business education, both at an industry level and at the level of our school. At an industry level mainly because technology has permitted the entrance of new players like the learning platforms. These platforms are both competitors and partners. 

At the school level, technology forces us to rethink about everything we do. We had our Chief Digital Officer, Robin Ajdari, arriving from the business world [Robin was previously head of strategic accounts development and VP learning and development at Atos] at about the right moment to guide us in our transformation.

Technology changes the business of business education, both at an industry level and at the level of our school. 

Robin Ajdari, Chief Digital Officer: Technology indeed changes almost everything we do at HEC. From our marketing, sales, and admissions process, to how we accompany and organize the student experience, and all the back office work that needs to be done, to how we stay in touch with our community of alumni. 

From prospects to alumni, we can give everybody a better “customer” experience and as an institution, we can manage the path they follow in a more integrated way. And then of course there is the educational experience as such. Technology permits us to create new types of degrees and programs. Fully online, partly online and partly on campus, and fully on campus but enhanced by technology. 

Running these programs requires new types of expertise and the creation of new types of jobs. For instance, we now have learning coaches who accompany students in our fully online programs (see article on MSIE Online Master's).

Does technology change teaching in on-campus programs as well? 

Marc Vanhuele: Yes, faculty who produced online content for our MOOCs and online MSIE now also use this content in combination with their on-campus courses. This frees up class time for other more interactive activities. This formula is called ‘blended learning’. An extreme version of this is that almost all content delivered is online. This is called a ‘flipped classroom’. Activities that in the traditional model were considered as homework now find their place in the classroom, often in the form of group activities and discussions. 

online business training ©macrovector-AdobeStock
©macrovector on AdobeStock

Why should students still come to campus if they will be able to learn everything online in the future?

Robin Ajdari: This is a question we often hear and most people who ask it focus too much on the content site of education. We think of education as an overall experience. Transmission of content is only a small part of it. And, what happens in the classroom is only a small part of it, however interactive it is. 
We have done research on the student experience using a Design Thinking approach.

Socializing in and outside the classroom, with the classmates, the professors, and other students, breaking the boundaries of nationality, culture and age is an enormous learning experience by itself. We think that as an educational institution we also have to enhance that dimension of the learning experience wherever possible, also through technology.

Socializing in and outside the classroom, breaking the boundaries of nationality, culture and age is an enormous learning experience by itself. We also have to enhance that dimension of the learning experience, also through technology.

We already have an App, "MyHEC", that enhances student life and have a vision for a broader digital platform that is multiservice and interactive. Technology can accelerate the integration of incoming students in our community (from administration tasks to campus visits and presentation of associations). And also daily life of the students already on campus. 

The concept is called: “HEC village”, both in a metaphoric and literal sense: the campus is a global village, with enormous diversity by itself but that is tied with the surrounding cities (Paris and  Versailles). With an alumni community as well. And of course the platform could also help with academic choices, providing advice and additional information. 
 

Related topics:
Embracing digital in business education
See structure

Part 3

What do we teach online? A story of continuous innovation

Today, having numerous online programs at HEC Paris is the result of a history of continuous experimentations. Vanessa Klein, Digital Learning Director, unveils all the steps that brought online learning at HEC, from the Apple iTunes U platform to the first entirely online MSc, through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and online certificates for executives. Then Karine Le Joly, Director of Digital Learning Strategy and Innovation, shares her analysis of the evolution of MOOCs and of its effects on the online space for Executive Education.

MOOC Vanessa Klein et Pascal Quiry

How did HEC start to implement online teaching?

Vanessa Klein: The story of online education at HEC started with about 30 courses and conferences posted as podcasts on the Apple’s iTunes U platform in 2010. At this time, we were at the very early steps of open (and free) online content. The most appreciated courses mainly consisted in a video record of in-class video lectures. At that time, we had experimented with very focused 3 to 5 min videos with graphic animations and a professor directly speaking to the user… it ended up as a flop in terms of audience, although it is now the standard of quality for videos in online courses. We were well inspired but the market wasn’t ready yet. Kristine De Valck’s course on Social Media was an international hit, ranked between number 2 and 8 for more than 18 months, providing HEC extremely good global exposure among the best educational institutions in the world.

We were well inspired but the market wasn’t ready yet.

The second wave came with the creation of MOOCs (the term was coined in 2008, but real experiments started in 2012). Alberto Alemanno and Pascal Quiry, who both already took an effective part in the iTunes U project, wanted to experiment with this new form of pedagogy, and institutionally HEC saw an interest in creating more visibility and access to the expertise of its faculty. HEC was among the first European academic partners of Coursera. The company was founded in 2012 and as of today (June 2019), 35 million learners use their learning platform. With its MOOCs (see the list below), HEC reached some 500 000 learners, many of whom did not know the institution before discovering its courses on Coursera.

With its MOOCs, HEC reached some 500 000 learners, many of whom did not know the institution before discovering its courses on Coursera

MOOC HEC Devenir Entrepreneur du changement

MOOC HEC "Devenir Entrepreneur du changement", a collaborative work with "Ticket 4 Change". From left to right: Vanessa Klein, Matthieu Dardaillon, Professor Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot

The faculty who created the courses also started offering them to on-campus students, in a blended format, in combination with webinars (online synchronous courses) and sometimes in-class sessions. Companies also started to ask for the production of online content for executive education.

A third phase started in January 2015 with the commercial launch of online, fee paying, certificate programs, primarily targeted at working professionals. Professor Pascal Quiry enriched his first MOOC created on Coursera with some additional content bringing to a well-recognized ICCF certification (ICCF @ HEC Paris). While inspired by the pedagogy of MOOCs, the program brought in new features to support participants active engagement and social learning: Regular live sessions and “face to face” meet ups are important milestones in the program to create social bounds with faculty and between participants. 

What had originally been designed as a pilot initiative to test the viability of a new business model, turned into a commercial success: The ICCF certificate is now being offered twice a year with cohorts of about 600 participants. Building on the success of this first Finance Certificate, two new programs were soon launched: Strategy @ HEC Paris and ACCF @ HEC Paris.

A fourth phase started with the creation of the first online degree, the Online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE). The scale of the project was daunting. It was like building an airplane while flying it (Learn about the challenges and what explains the success of Online Master’s in these interviews). Again, faculty who produced online courses started using this content in their residential teaching. They also shared this content with colleagues.

The scale of the creation of the first online degree was daunting.
 

HEC’s venture into the online space is full of pioneering initiatives. How do HEC’s strategy fit into its broader environment? 

Karine Le Joly: When they were created in 2012, MOOCs were considered as a major breakthrough for the world of higher education. There is indeed a before and an after the MOOCs. Yet, changes have progressively appeared, which have given rise to new challenges and opportunities. The most important changes relate to economic models. Initially driven by the objective to provide affordable education to underserved audiences worldwide, MOOCs platforms’ early strategy was based on volume and very low prices through “freemium” pricing schemes. This volume-based model, positioned at the bottom of the pyramid, has now clearly been replaced by a more exclusive model, moving up the pyramid of talents by addressing more traditional executive audiences with more sophisticated offers. This upmarket strategy is being implemented by both historical MOOCs platforms, such as Coursera or EdX, but also by new players (eg. Get Smarter, ExecOnline). 

This volume-based model has now clearly been replaced by a more exclusive model, with more sophisticated offers.

The emerging competitive landscape may be seen a threat to business schools’ traditional programs, and especially to Executive Education. It is also full of promises for those who keep on innovating. Time has proved the relevance of some of HEC’s choices: The professional Certificate model, tried out by HEC at a very early stage, has now become a prevalent model among the best business schools; Online degrees have gained undeniable legitimacy. 

The professional Certificate model, tried out by HEC at a very early stage, has now become a prevalent model among the best business schools.


What can be expected to come next? Especially in terms of managers’ talent development?

Karine LeJoly: New and exciting avenues for digital learning and, more specifically, for online offerings come along the notion of “Lifelong Learning”. Lifelong learning is a necessity for every manager, because of the unprecedented transformation of work, brought by the digital revolution but also environmental and social challenges. Ongoing skills development is not new. Yet, change occurs at a scale and speed that makes it critical for individuals to continuously invest in their careers and stay attuned to emerging jobs and competencies: once linear, career pathways need to be constantly reinvented. At the same time, the transformation of organizations looking for agile processes, flatter structures, project-based teamwork and innovation, opens up new needs for the development of transversal and soft skills at every level of the talent pipeline. 

Karine LeJoly HEC
Karine LeJoly

 

 

Lifelong learning is a necessity for every manager because of the unprecedented transformation of work.

Executive Education MOOC evolution


Those transformations pave out the way for Executive Education.

While degree and certificate programs remain highly relevant to support major career moves, complementary solutions should be looked for in order to serve increasingly diverse skill-enhancements needs. These may lie in the development of portfolios of short, flexible learning units, which may be combined and assembled as part of customized learning pathways by individuals and companies alike. 

business online education

Business Online Education ©macrovector on AdobeStock

HEC Paris Executive Education has embarked into such a journey, and the digital learning format surely has a piece to play in this journey as it brings scale and flexibility. The Executive Education and Digital teams are currently working on the creation of a new 100% online offering for companies, jointly created and delivered with École Polytechnique and Sciences Po Paris. This project specifically aims at helping companies meet the challenges of lifelong learning. It will certainly unveil a new phase is HEC Paris’ history of continuous digital innovation. 

 


 

MOOCs at HEC Paris

MOOCs available on Coursera include:

Executive Online Certificates available on FFI include:

  • International Certificate in Corporate Finance (ICCF @ HEC Paris), with Pascal Quiry, offering a comprehensive curriculum targeting a wide audience of executives from different backgrounds and sectors
  • Advanced Certificate in Corporate Finance (ACCF @ HEC Paris) with Pascal Quiry
  • Strategy @ HEC Paris with Pierre Dussauge. 

All our MOOCS are offered with English and French subtitles.
See all the MOOCs here.

Related topics:
Embracing digital in business education
See structure

Part 4

Focus on the 100% Online Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: What are the challenges and keys for success?

The MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE) is HEC’s first 100% online degree. It helps future and current business leaders successfully implement their innovation or entrepreneurial projects. We asked different key actors to understand the challenges and success of this first 100% HEC online degree.

The program takes 18 months to complete, consisting of 20 courses and a ten-month-long group project. It is structured in short phases that can be completed independently. This allows the participants to adjust their learning journey to their project and opt for a Certificate or an MSc degree that can be leveraged throughout their career. In June, the first two cohorts, 120 participants in total, received their degree. 

What challenges did you have to face?

Vanessa Klein, Director Digital Learning at HEC Paris: When I was asked, with Associate Dean Marc Vanhuele, to explore the possibility of launching a fully online degree, our challenge was to come up with a formula that would assure that the online master would be considered of the same standing and quality as a traditional on-campus master’s program. After all, the graduates would become HEC alumni. How to make sure that they would be regarded as real alumni? Fortunately, we were given complete freedom for the design. We did not follow an existing model or template. We knew that we had the know-how to create online courses. The scale of creating 20 courses was quite daunting but the real challenge was that the sum of 20 MOOC-like courses would not be sufficient for a degree. The innovation project under the guidance of seasoned mentors from HEC’s ecosystem played a key role in making the difference.

How to make sure that the graduates would be regarded as real alumni?

Robin Ajdari, Chief Digital Officer at HEC Paris: MSIE was an enormous production challenge but everything was completed in time, thanks to the hard work of the team managed by Vanessa Klein and Ashraf Akbar. It was important to launch the program as fast as possible after we received the go-ahead from our governance. At the same time, it was key to maintain the quality standard that formed the basis of our MOOCs’ success. The program was launched in September 2017, and the first cohort of learners started when only six of the twenty courses were actually ready. The expression “flying an airplane while building it” is a very good description of the project. It all ended well but it has been a bumpy and stressful journey – we learned a lot!

A second challenge was that we work in partnership with Coursera. The program runs on their platform and we work together on marketing activities. This collaboration brings additional resources and expertise to the project. It is fantastic to be able to count on their contribution but the formula, of course, also creates complications. The platform keeps evolving constantly, whilst not always delivering the features we’re expecting.

The expression “flying an airplane while building it” is a very good description of the project.

Stéphanie Gaget, Business Development Manager at HEC Paris: An important challenge on the delivery side is finding the right balance between giving flexibility to our participants and making sure that they keep the cadence in order to reach the different deadlines and finish the program in time. That’s the problem with self-paced learning when the learners have a lot of other ongoing commitments. We initially gave too much flexibility and some participants could not keep up with their cohort and had to switch to the next one. 

What explains the success of this online program?

According to Director Digital Learning Vanessa Klein, it is essential to have good coordination and a relationship of trust between the instructional designers, project managers and the professors.

Thomas Astebro, Academic Director of MSIE, L'Oreal Professor of Entrepreneurship and serial entrepreneur: The Master’s program teaches skills for innovation, so it focuses both on start-up enterprises and on innovation-based business development in larger firms. It trains individuals in a wide range of hard skills needed for entrepreneurship, and some behavioral skills such as persistence and negotiation...

Key to the success is that, like many of our programs at HEC Paris, this one is the result of the combined input from academic faculty and practicing entrepreneurs. Contributions come from business people such as Affiliate Professor Ambroise Huret, Managing Partner at strategy consulting firm Eleven, who shares his own vast experience as an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial dilemmas in the course on entrepreneurship strategy. We also have Pascale Brochard, a practicing intellectual property lawyer, and academic subject experts such as Associate Professor Mathis Schulte, who teaches negotiations skills in the program.

Key to the success is that, like many of our programs at HEC Paris, this one is the result of the combined input from academic faculty and practicing entrepreneurs.

Ashraf Akbar, Senior Digital Learning Manager & Instructional Designer: After leading the Online Master’s project for more than one year, I think that a key ingredient of our success is that we have very experienced faculty who delivered prime quality content and at the same time, we used our experience in online pedagogy to provide them with effective pedagogical design guidance. An online course has to follow the pedagogical as well as technical constraints imposed by the platform. These constraints sometimes create conflict with the pedagogical objectives and content requirements. A good course is not necessarily one that falls neatly into the limitations of a learning management system (or LMS) and that's why we had to think out of the box to come up with creative solutions that go beyond what the platform offers.

It is our responsibility as instructional designers to understand the technical limits and then find methods to operate within them while pushing the boundaries at the same time. We used immersive and engaging instructional design strategies including content chunking strategies and active learning, where we prepared learners to work individually as well as in teams.

We had to think out of the box to come up with creative solutions that go beyond what the platform offers.

Stéphanie Gaget: With the arrival of MSIE we have a new job at HEC, that of learning coach. The Learning Coaches are the guarantors of the smooth running of the courses and especially of the educational experience of the students throughout the program. The Learning Coaches are there to answer all the students' questions and to remind them of the deadlines and expectations of the program. Because online training can sometimes lead to fear of isolation, the Learning Coaches are in regular contact with the students. They build special relationships with them and support them in their educational journey to ensure the best possible learning experience. Learning Coaches also help to create links between students, by exercising the role of community manager, by informing students about the life of HEC alumni around the world, or by creating unifying events (virtual or face to face). Their role is essential to the cohesion of the virtual group and helps develop the feeling of belonging to the community of HEC. In addition, we have mentors who coach the group projects. Action-based learning, moving a project from ideation to the investors’ pitch is an essential feature of MSIE. The mentors themselves are coached by their own mentors. 

 

The Learning Coaches are the guarantors of the smooth running of the courses and especially of the educational experience of the students.

Who likes MSIE and why?

The latest cohort consisted of more than 70 students, coming from more than 30 countries and nationalities. The most striking characteristic of this new group of participants is that their ages vary widely. The youngest participant was 25 years old. The oldest 61. With an average age of 38, many are mid-career executives who want to transition into leadership in their organizations. But there are also several students in their twenties who wish to build their own businesses. The sixty-plus veterans have the ambition to provide a framework for their own experience in order to pass on knowledge and skills to younger people.

Students have diverse professional and academic backgrounds (marketing, research and development, military, communication…). For example, Efthymia Lioliou, postdoctoral researcher in Biochemistry from Greece, decided to apply for the MSIE because she wanted to play an active role in solving pressing societal, environmental and health-related issues: “My project aimed at producing protein biotechnologically in order to feed the Earth’s growing population in a sustainable way. I would recommend MSIE without hesitating – producing a team-project while working from distance was one of the most innovative and interesting, thought-provoking aspects of the degree.”  

MSIE Twitter Grad19
Marc Vanhuele, Associate Dean at HEC Paris, at the Graduation Ceremony 2019 on HEC campus.

See on Twitter here.

Related topics:
Embracing digital in business education
See structure

Part 5

MOOCs and the promise of continuous personalized feedback: What research says

Can we address MOOCs’ low completion rate? Find how in this interview with Xitong Li, Associate Professor at HEC Paris, whose research focuses on how information or digital strategies can address new challenges.

MOOC on tablet

A massive open online course (MOOC) is open to anyone. They are very popular in the US, France, Europe, and China. However, MOOCs are also facing insufficient participation and completion, mainly because learners struggle against procrastination. It’s a widely observed phenomenon. 

How could your research face the learners’ insufficient participation to MOOCs?

In our research, we categorize the motivations of the learners to complete the MOOC, in order to convert motivation to action. Through experimentations, we compare different types of strategies to motivate students: simple digital tools, social norms and financial incentives.

  1. Simple tools: call to action messages, reminders, deadline prompts.
     
  2. In terms of social norms, our approach is to give the prospects feedback with rankings relative to the other learners. We're working on Chinese learners with the Chinese equivalent of Coursera. We look at the ranking and we tell learners their rankings, privately or publicly, so they can compare them to the other learners. Private ranking is more effective for self-improvement, vs public, better for self-esteem, where the image management is dominant. We want to compare the effects of self-efficacy and evaluation on the learners’ capacity, and comparative feedback with the other learners.
     
  3. Finally, we give monetary incentives with financial awards.

 

We want to compare the effects of self-efficacy and evaluation on the learners’ capacity, and comparative feedback with the other learners. 

Xitong Li HEC

 

 

We study and compare randomized groups of learners, using or not using those strategies, to see which ones are more effective, and to know what motivates learners and employees to participate in order to improve the online course completion rate.

This research would have impact on MOOC platforms, but also on online education in general, including all online courses and digital learning. This research has received a grant from ANR France (Agence Nationale de la Recherche in France, equivalent to National Science Foundation in the U.S.) for three years (2018-2020).

 

You also plan to make more effective videos for online courses at HEC Paris

Yes. I'm now working with Senior Digital Learning Project Manager Ashraf Akbar to develop a research project specifically based on HEC online courses. In this project, we are going to explore different design strategies for course videos. The objective is to know whether and how the position of the professor in the course videos has impact on the learning. It’s the first time that research has been done to answer this question.

At the end, the results would help HEC produce more effective videos for online courses.

This article is based on an interview with Xitong Li on his current research with Nina Huang, Jiayin Zhang, Gordon Burtch, and Peiyu Chen: "Combating Procrastination on MOOCs via Optimal Calls to Action: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment".
Xitong Li
Associate Professor
See structure

Part 6

How online learning changed my teaching methods

In this article we share testimonials from our professors about their personal experience with online education.

Pierre Dussauge MOOC

Many of our faculty were invited to join an institutional project (like MSIE, the online MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship that involved 25 professors) or they started with some experimentation and then scaled up. 

Most of them said the experience was transformative. That they will never teach the same way again. Professors said the method of creating their courses online also improved their teaching methods in the classroom, because they need to clarify their objectives, develop and diversify teaching strategies, and keep the students’ attention.

Just do it!

Pierre Dussauge, Professor of Business Strategy: "The world of online learning is constantly evolving, and it is hard to predict where it is all going, with digitalization set to affect different disciplines in different ways. If we wait for it to be perfect before we get involved, then we will never get involved, which would be a pity. It’s a matter of familiarizing oneself with digital tools and platforms and using trial-and-error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Digital education is like moving away from being an onstage actor in a theater play to producing a movie." Learn more about Pierre Dussauge’s course “Strategy @ HEC Paris” here (see the cover photo), and in this interview based article by HEC Executive Education here.

Online teaching is teamwork

Tomasz Obloj and Giada Di Stefano, on their video case studies: "Developing Organizing for Innovation was a one of a kind experience. We put so much work in it, with so much joy and passion. We went through hard times, when the pieces did not seem to fit. Times when we thought that we started so many threads that it’d be impossible to tie them back together. And then many (and many more) moments of laughter and fun. This was such a great learning experience! 

We got to interact with amazing people. We met entrepreneurs from all over Europe and spent endless hours in the rain, looking for a window of opportunity to shoot a 10-second scene. We had to rethink our way to deliver content, and really, truly engage in teamwork - with the production team, with the teaching assistants, and with all the other many people involved. And to be honest, despite all the work, we would do it all over again tomorrow."

"Thank you Giada di Stefano and Tomasz Obloj for the well-presented concepts in a very didactic manner! The companies you have chosen for your immersion as examples are top notch and very representative. It was a pleasure to take this course," a student.

MSIE organization for innovation

The course “Organizing for Innovation” is part of the MSIE Online Master’s but available for free as teaser.

Online opens up new ways of being creative

Anne Laure Sellier*, teaching on creativity at MSIE: "Developing a course fully online for HEC was as stimulating as it was challenging. It forces you to consider obvious pedagogical issues, such as the fact you cannot check real-time how your content "lands" on students, or the fact you cannot see where they have difficulty understanding and would need more elaboration on your side. It also enables you to consider new approaches you can adopt thanks to technology. For instance, consider that your students may be at home when taking your class. You can actually ask them to be in their kitchen and start cooking something if that activity comes in handy. Many business concepts can become more intuitive using cooking (if that is not obvious, take the course!). 

Anne Laure Sellier teaching
Anne Laure Sellier teaching her "Creativity" course in the classroom

Ultimately, you push yourself as an instructor in pitch-dark new territory, which is immensely fun, and I remain eager to get students' feedback on their experience. So many different students, so much to learn... The few exchanges I've had with students who took the course a long distance away have been the best reward for me so far, it keeps getting me thinking of new ways to teach with these fast-evolving tools.”

"Only twice in my life have I really been sad to see a course end and tonight was one of those nights. I have never seen a video program be delivered in the manner Professor Sellier accomplished. She came across the video, right into my office and I was spellbound, by both her and the material! This field of study was nascent when I went to University and it's my passion. I am in love with New Product design and I have already implemented much of what Professor Sellier imparted," a student.

*Anne Laure Sellier received the 2019 Prix Vernimmen Pedagogy Award for the quality of her pedagogy on creativity. 

Virtual classrooms to reduce anxiety

Denis Gromb runs two webinars when teaching corporate finance in the Executive MBA: "The first webinar aims to introduce the course and… reduce anxiety about the subject matter. I limit generalities to a minimum and start a case study that we will finish in class. It’s very short so participants can read it as we go and still enjoy the session. The second one is a debrief of the exam. I cover slides reviewing the exam, and participants post questions, which I then answer for everyone. The technology works smoothly, and the tech team makes things safe and easy. Now we have done a couple of iterations, I feel I could probably do it alone, pretty much like a glorified Skype call." See Professor Denis Gromb's webinar on private equity and infrasctructure here.

webinar ©anyaberkut-AdobeStock

 

Blended Learning increased positive evaluations of the professors

Building on his online course production for the Executive Online Certificates, Pascal Quiry reduced the in-class course sessions for "Corporate Finance" in the Grande Ecole Master by replacing them with online content. This core course is taught in parallel by a team of professors. «One of the first positive consequences is that course evaluations have increased for all professors! This new format has also allowed to standardize the course content and supporting material thanks to the online resources which are the same for all students. They can now learn at their own pace during the week and can post their questions on the discussion board if they need help." Learn more in this interview of Pascal Quiry.

pascal quiry ICCF @ HEC
Pascal Quiry teaching online the ICCF @ HEC Paris Certificate

 

A successful flipped classroom experiment to teach Accounting

Pascale Defline is reversing the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content online, outside of the classroom. “I wanted to make students much more active during the class, with the objective of making the covered concepts stay in their mind long after the final exam! They appreciate the possibility of working at their own pace, whenever they want. They also like working in groups a lot, explaining to each other what they have not well understood. Moreover, the explanations I give in class are generally more personalized. Now the assessment is more balanced since it is composed of the online quizzes, the in-class case studies and a final test." Learn more in this interview with Pascale Defline.

"The flipped classroom format is awesome: online course + group work in class. It really helps us to better assimilate the concepts, forcing us to get involved in the group projects," a student.

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Part 7

A successful flipped classroom experiment

Interview with Pascale Defline, Affiliate Professor, Accounting and Management Control department, about her flipped classroom experiment with the Grande Ecole "Accounting 2" course.

Pascale Defline

Caroline Meriaux, Digital Learning team: For which reasons did you want to change the pedagogy of your course?

Pascale Defline: For several reasons in fact. The first one is that students, no matter how interested they are in a course, are relatively passive with a classic pedagogy. Even if we manage to bring interactivity with questions and making them do some exercises during the sessions, they are here to receive what the professor gives, the course content or answers to the exercises. With a new teaching format, I wanted to make students much more active during the class, with the objective of making the covered concepts stay in their mind long after the final exam!

The second reason is that I think the flipped classroom methodology corresponds much more than a classic pedagogy to what students will go through in the work place. If they need to go deeper on a specific topic or to clarify a tricky question in their professional life, they will look into a handbook, a website or ask an expert and will study the subject on their own, from a theoretical point of view. Then, in a second step, they will put into practice with their colleagues or co-workers what they have learned: it's the same idea with the flipped classroom methodology.

Finally, a third reason is that I was starting to get tired of doing the same course for many years, with the same format. I needed change, a new challenge.

I wanted to make students much more active during the class, with the objective of making the covered concepts stay in their mind long after the final exam!

How did you proceed to flip your course content?

The "Accounting 2" course is composed of 12 sessions of one and a half hour each (18 hours in total), the first one being a refresher and the last one with a guest speaker. Therefore, I had 10 sessions to flip.

For these 10 sessions, I wanted students to work on the basis of videos where I would present the different concepts and notions. When you do a live presentation, in a classic teaching setting, it is always possible to go back to a previous slide or re-explain a concept. But giving that the material is kind of static in videos, the sequence of new concepts, explanations and given examples must be close to perfection! So I had to revise my whole presentation used in class, weighting each word, picking them carefully, to have sequences that were as logical as possible. It was in the end a very interesting project where I constantly have to put myself in the student's shoes since there will be no more interaction when he/she will be learning the course. A real call into question of everything I usually do!

Once this work done, I cut the course into small sequences, each one covering a specific notion, in order to have one video per notion. Then, I filmed 29 videos with the Ubicast solution. The duration of the videos varies between 3 to 15 minutes. This work was kind of fun, with some bursts of laughter! I had made the choice of not having a prompter and I could feel the tension increasing toward the end of the video, especially when for long videos: no mistake allowed so close to the end!

I also created 10 MCQ, with 5 questions each. Students had to take them after watching the videos. The aim of these MCQ was to cover the key concepts studied in the videos.

A real call into question of everything I usually do!

 

flipped classroom

Learn more about what is a flipped classroom in this video made by the University of Texas.

How much time did it take you?

It's difficult to say as the work was spread over several months. Let's say a few weeks on the content and 10 half days for the videos. We also need to add more time for creating the MCQ and uploading all the material on Blackboard. It takes quite some time the first time because you need to manage the adaptive release for all the videos and quizzes. However, for the following semesters, you simply copy/paste the material and adjust the dates.

What were the results and feedback from the students?

Students are very happy. They appreciate the possibility of working at their own pace, whenever they want. They also like working in groups a lot, explaining to each other what they have not well understood. Moreover, the explanations I give in class are generally more personalized.

The assessment has also changed and they are more satisfied with it. Before, they only had a final test. Now it's more balanced since it is composed of the online quizzes, the in-class case studies (I pick up all of them but only grade 2 per session, of course without telling students which ones) and a final test. The final grades are overall better, even if we still have some students who don't validate the course. These ones will have the pleasure of going through the flipped classroom methodology again!

Students appreciate the possibility of working at their own pace, whenever they want. They also like working in groups a lot, explaining to each other what they have not well understood. Moreover, the explanations I give in class are generally more personalized.

 

Pascale Defline Prix Vernimmen 2017
Pascale Defline receiving the Prix Vernimmen by the BNP Paribas for the quality and innovation of her pedagogy.

See on Twitter here.

Related topics:
Embracing digital in business education
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Part 8

Blended Learning format in the Grande Ecole program

Interview with Pascal Quiry, Affiliate Professor in the Finance Department, Author of Vernimmen, and BNP-Paribas Chair holder at HEC Paris.

Caroline Meriaux, Digital Learning team: Can you talk to me about your blended learning course in the Grande Ecole program?

Pascal Quiry: It’s a mandatory course in Corporate France, for Master 1 students. So far, this 36-hour course was spread into 24 sessions of 1h30 each, at the rate of two weekly sessions, one on Monday morning and one on Wednesday morning. 

Having developed material (videos and quizzes) for the creation of online courses (ICCF@HEC, ACCF@HEC), I decided to reduce the face-to-face time by two and to offer the other half online. So Monday sessions are now replaced by distance learning whereas Wednesday sessions remain face-to-face. Before coming to Wednesday session, students must have studied the online material and done the related quizzes. This format allows to make more applied activities in classroom.

 

I decided to reduce the face-to-face time by two and to offer the other half online.

Do other professors teaching in this course have adopted the same format?

Being the course coordinator, I first tested this new format in my course before deploying it in the other courses. Today, the online part is therefore the same for all groups whereas the face-to-face part is run by several professors.

On which platform is hosted the online course?

The course is hosted on First Finance’s platform, our partner with whom we have developed the Executive Online Certificates. They take care of technical support for students.

How do you make sure students do the online work?

The day before the face-to-face course, professors log in on the platform to verify if their students filled out the mandatory quiz and send a reminder to those who didn’t. Quizzes are there primarily there to make sure they watch the videos and to test their understanding. But we nevertheless need a "carrot" so that the work is done. Quizzes are thus graded and represent 20 % of the final grade.

blended learning redlands eacademy
Blended Learning format (by Redlands Eacademy)

What are the advantages of this new course format?

One of the first positive consequence is that course evaluations have increased for all professors! This new format has also allowed to standardize the course content and supporting material thanks to the online resources which are the same for all students. They can now learn at their own pace during the week and can post their questions on the discussion board if they need help. 

This blended learning format also divides by two the classroom occupation and thus reduces significantly carbon emissions! We, the faculty, but also some students, only come to campus once a week instead of two.

 

The students can now learn at their own pace during the week and can post their questions on the discussion board if they need help. 

What are the risks of such format?

Some students wait until the last moment to watch all the videos, generally just before the final exam. This is detrimental for them because we cannot do any formative assessment and check their understanding all along the course. Most of the time, they fail the exam as it is impossible to assimilate so much content in so little time, without putting things into perspective and with no maturation time. 

Does monitoring the discussion forum take a lot of time?

Not that much because most students ask questions the day before the mid-term and the final exam. Furthermore, we have as a rule not to answer by email to questions related to the course content. Students must post their question in the discussion forum so that the whole promotion can see the question and the answer, and therefore they also learn this way. On our side, we avoid numerous individual emails for the same questions.  

What would be your recommendations to your colleagues?

Don’t be afraid, it works ! Turning the material into a digital format is a huge investment at the beginning. However, this can be done with some help. We can then make it profitable and mutualize this investment during several years. To be really effective, the only condition, I think, is to have already given the course face-to-face. Because we know "where it sticks", we know the parts of the course where students have the most difficulties. We can thus take it into account in the conception of the online resources.

Related topics:
Embracing digital in business education
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Part 9

Robots can improve student learning, but can’t replace teachers

Telepresence robots are used at HEC in courses. In this interview, HEC Researcher Professor Sangseok You shares his insights on the utilization of robots in education.

Kristine De Valck, Associate Professor of Marketing at HEC Paris, uses telepresence robots (from awabot company) for connecting with students who cannot be physically present: “We used the robots for one of our PhD Pedagogy course. One of our students was in the USA and another one, who just had a baby, was in Paris. They attended the course just as if they were in class with us. Despite their physical absence, we really could interact with them.” 

Assistant Professor Sangseok You found in his latest research that people often treat robots as if they have a personality and knowledge: robots manifest actions and they seem to display emotions and intentions. His research has also shown that organizational teams become more performant when working with a robot. Knowing that, we can ask ourselves if a relationship between a robot and students can improve learning.

Why using robots in the classroom?

Robots are being introduced to many areas that require interactions between entities at a distance. Education is an area where robots can bring about changes, for instance, in learner’s attitudes, engagement, and they can therefore eventually increase the learning effectiveness.

How can a robot improve learning?

Like in telemedicine, students can have real-time interaction with their instructor and the other students in courses when they are in different places, through a telepresence robot. Compared to simple teleconferencing (e.g. using Skype), the use of those robots can result in higher levels of immersion and participation of the students partly because of their physical embodiment. So the interaction will be more visceral and spontaneous than in situations where the person in distance is represented through video screens or laptops. Indeed, researchers have found that when the robot mimics human motions with robotic arms (when they have arms), showing hand gestures and gazes from the person on the other side, they can be closer to their off-line counterpart than without this kind of robot.

Sangseok You dessin

 

 

The use of those robots can result in higher levels of immersion and participation of the students partly because of their physical embodiment. 

So, can the personification of the robot maintain or develop a close relation between persons at distance?

Yes. In my research, we show that when people interact with a robotic agent, including touching and bumping into it, they develop psychological attachment, attraction, and friendship. The phenomenon is so powerful that, for instance, students of a remote class can form a commitment to the course, feel closer to their instructor, and experience cohesive and cooperative classroom environments, all at distance.

Can robots then also replace human teachers?

Robots will and should never replace human teachers, but they can be a good complement. Indeed, the mere presence of a robot in a classroom is reported to promote class participation and learning effectiveness at schools. Furthermore, robots that never get tired can load off human teachers’ work, such as repeating course content, grading, and other administrative tasks.

Sangseok You HEC professor
Sangseok You
Assistant Professor

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