Research - 23.08.2022 - 00:00 

Executive education after the corona pandemic – five trends

The corona pandemic has boosted digitalisation in executive education. Yet how sustainable will this development turn out to be? Researchers of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) have examined the situation, classified the courses and identified five trends for the future.

23 August 2022. During the corona pandemic, providers of education came under a great deal of pressure, particularly where these courses were taught in the classroom. In many places, the industry had not been prepared; reductions in turnover were the consequence. On the other hand, the situation also boosted digitalisation. Consequently, new forms of teaching established themselves which combine online elements and classroom teaching in a wide variety of ways, as Dr. Christoph Meier and Prof. Dr. Sabine Seufert observe in their study Online, hybrid oder Blended Learning?, which has just been published. 

Online, hybrid or blended learning?
So-called “hybrid” courses take place in physical co-presence but provide the option that participants can join in online. In contrast to this, “blended learning” combines stages of classroom presence for all participants with online stages, during which participants learn on their own.

Thanks to the distinction between online, hybrid and blended learning, it is easier to take learners’ requirements into consideration, for instance with regard to scheduling or travelling times. Depending on the subject-matter and the learning objective, however, it is also possible to offer forms of teaching that are a perfect fit. Thus it has turned out, for example, that fundamental knowledge can be learnt well with digital media by participants on their own, whereas during the classroom stage, the potential for direct interaction and social learning must be put to use.

Five trends for the future
Adult and executive education is still at a stage of transformation. According to the researchers from St.Gallen, five trends can be identified for the future.

  1. Fewer classroom courses
    Fewer classroom courses, instead more extended training sessions with media-supported preparatory and transfer stages in a blended design
  2. Stronger flexibilisation
    Stronger flexibilisation through modular small-format, work-related or work-integrated and action-oriented courses
  3. Stronger personalisation
    Stronger personalisation, particularly in the context of longer-term development programmes, for instance through election modules or individualised development reports (portfolio work)
  4. More hybrid learning options
    More hybrid learning options to provide participants with a higher degree of flexibility, such as is increasingly being called for at universities and in executive development
  5. More online courses
    More online courses to complement the existing portfolio, particularly in specialist fields and courses prescribed by regulations

In sum, Dr. Christoph Meier and Prof. Dr. Sabine Seufert observe that executive education will have to keep abreast of the increasing flexibilisation of the working world to ensure that in the future, “there will be a stronger focus on the link between working and learning again”. This will not come free but require investments in the development of infrastructures and academic directors.

Image: Adobe Stock / Jacob Lund

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