In both the hybrid and online formats, what do you think has gone particularly well, and what do you think you still need to improve upon?
What has gone very well is that our faculty are definitely well suited and skilled to teach in online learning environments. That has helped keep the classroom experience very engaging. The faculty still conduct very traditional ways of teaching, even in the online space: They still cold call students, they still put them in groups and teams. They still do those traditional classroom activities, but now they have different support tools that really help them with online teaching.
We do have our Global Classrooms in the large classrooms with the monitors on the wall, and those have really enhanced the experience — not only for the students, but also for our instructors. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to teach to faces of students that are projected on a large wall versus having to swipe through Zoom screens.
Are these Global Spaces classrooms where in-person and online students can participate in the same class?
We do that for our electives, not our core classes. With our core classes, those that are taken during that first and second semester, the students are in their specific format with those other individuals.
Once we get into the electives, we use our Global Classroom that’s actually a hybrid room, and it seats 60 people physically in the room, and then you can get a multitude of people online via monitors in the back wall. That way, we’re able to have one elective course but it doesn’t matter if you’re fully online or hybrid or if you’re on campus.
So what are some things you’ve noticed that may continue to be a challenge in the hybrid and online formats?
I’ve worked in the online space for 20 something years, and this technology really has changed the game as far as being able to provide a fully virtual experience at a high level. So many of those challenges have actually been reduced quite a bit just because of the technology alone as well as the training of our faculty. I don’t see any challenge that is just specific to online versus hybrid.
I think the challenge, for all formats and really just for EMBA education in general, is just constantly making efforts to stay apprised of the future of business. The world is changing so quickly, and we’ve got to continue to educate our students at the highest level and expose them to so many great — not only people but challenges and problems — that I’d say is our biggest concern for all of the formats.
As you know, last month The Wharton School announced a new Global EMBA that would be 75% online. Do you think this is the direction the EMBA is going, with even more top schools announcing online options?
Yes. I absolutely think it’s the direction. And I think, at this point, we’re here. The future is happening now. Post pandemic era, our behaviors have changed forever. Despite individuals and organizations really wanting things to go back to the way they were, I think that’s not where we should spend our efforts. I think we should just accept the new reality and embrace it. There are lots of ways that we can continue to meet our students where they are and where they want to be.
I definitely think these more flexible formats allow more working professionals to come back to school. People just have a variety of circumstances, and so I think the demand will continue to be flexibility. It benefits us all to provide more flexibility because now more people can take advantage of the education that we have to offer.
Going back to the challenges of keeping up with the changes in business in general and the new skills executives need, what are some things Goizueta is exploring in terms of content?
Emory University is very much dedicated to the research of artificial intelligence and how that is impacting business decisions and also business solutions. That is becoming our focus area at the university level, but also within the business school. I anticipate that will result in us having more electives in that particular area than what we’ve had.
The other area of expertise that we offer is the business of healthcare and how we’re able to educate physicians and people in the healthcare arena on better incorporating business processes into their daily work. By us being at Emory University and having access to our medical school and amazing hospitals and research centers, that is an area that we already provide a series of content for our students, but I think that will be an area where we will continue to grow.
Considering that your hybrid and online formats allow you to attract students from a greater geographic area, what would you say are Goizueta’s differentiators for Executive MBAs?
We are already seeing students come from a wider area. We now have students from a majority of the states going up and down the Eastern corridor, and we even have expanded more into Texas and then the Midwest as well. That definitely is happening because of the hybrid and the online delivery.
What differentiates us is that we’re still an intimate learning environment even with our growth. Our class sizes are still intentionally relatively smaller than some other EMBA programs. And that is by design. We focus on quality and not quantity, even in these virtual environments.
You wouldn’t see, for example, us having a cohort size of 100-something students fully online. We would break that up into smaller sections of students so that our faculty can give the level of attention to our students that makes us who we are at Goizueta. I think that would be something that any student would recognize even for the variety of formats that we have to offer.
I think that’s what would make us competitive for a student who’s looking for an EMBA program who happens to live in New York or Pennsylvania, D.C., or all these other areas. I think that’s something they’re going to consider when they’re comparing us to some of their local schools.
Anything else you’d like to add?
In addition to our multiple delivery formats, we’ve also taken advantage of new technology. I mentioned our Global Classrooms, but we also have a variety of virtual reality simulations that we are now incorporating into our classes, and we’re going to be rolling those out publicly pretty soon. That’s something that we hope to be able to license to other schools in the relatively near future.
We are also utilizing our hologram technology, and that’s been pretty amazing as well. When we would like to bring high level speakers to engage with our students, we now can actually beam them into a classroom. It’s pretty cool because, obviously, given the schedules of these high profile people, it’s very hard sometimes to get them to Atlanta.
Last December, we beamed Rick Rieder from BlackRock into one of our macro economics classes. That’s a new technology that we’ve used once, but we plan to use it many more times to expand our students’ exposure to some really amazing people.