Last Summer BizEd, the AACSB magazine, ran an article I
wrote about "Technology, Education and the Developing World”. To me, the
biggest global challenge faced by educators is that of inclusiveness: making
relevant and quality education accessible to millions of underserved persons,
and first of all women. Technology is clearly key to scaling up the reach of
education. It is a sobering fact that the world had to wait six hundred years
between the last "quantum innovation” – the printing press – and the next – the
World Wide Web.
Two major constraints inhibit scaling-up traditional education:
the acute shortage of faculty and teachers; and institutional rigidities. The
question for the developing world is whether they might leapfrog the gap that
separates them from more affluent parts of the world. I believe that several
opportunities favor today’s emerging markets. Firstly, long-established (and
therefore somewhat entrenched) education institutions are fewer there than in the
old industrial countries, making it easier to innovate. Secondly, "the
knowledge commons” - the world’s pool of knowledge, which developing country
schools and universities can tap – are growing exponentially (viz the Khan Academy on a Stick). Third,
IT is spreading as connection prices are falling.
Yet in a recent FT Soapbox article, Chris Bones of Manchester Business School
writes that "a
quick survey of the leading [business] school sites shows that digital
execution and engagement is generally poor”
>>Click here for the article
In some ways, business schools are facing the challenges
that newspapers have been confronting
since the rapid rise of online information. In the developing world, mobile
education is one of the most promising ways to grow the talent pool. There, the
vast majority of persons still lack affordable access to broadband, and
therefore online solutions that depend on (relatively high-cost) computers and
tablets will not work any time soon for the majority of the underserved. On the
other hand, the spread of mobile phones is phenomenal and a few pilot
institutions – mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa - are delivering business education
via mobile phones. Much remains to be done, however, in adapting content,
offering interactivity and above all ensuring relevance.
These and other IT issues will be the focus of an event
co-hosted by GBSN and INSEAD in Singapore April 6, 2014: "Tapping the Potential
of Technology to Transform Management Education for Emerging Markets”. I hope
that many of you will participate. Registration is available through March 14th at www.gbsnonline.org/techsummit.
Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network.