By Christine Demen Meier, Managing Director, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education
Many businesses had to slow down or temporarily closed their businesses due to the pandemic, especially in the hospitality education sector. This situation can be viewed as a crisis, or an opportunity for the hospitality industry and the education sector to transform and embrace the digitalisation age.
Digitalisation is one of the most significant trends in hospitality education. At Les Roches, we have created a Master’s in Hospitality Strategy in Digital Transformation, an 18-month program fully dedicated to preparing future hoteliers and hospitality service providers to lead the digitalisation of hospitality. This master is a direct response to the industry’s needs to prepare future leaders for the challenges they will face in today’s digitally connected world. Successful completion of this program will provide students with the required skills and knowledge to face the digital transformation in the hospitality industry where new operators are shaking up the market.
With the outbreak of Covid-19 causing many educational institutions worldwide to close temporarily, many educational institutions including Les Roches had to turn to distance learning. Digital textbooks accessible 24/7, content accessible via online platforms, video conferences, and online assessments are among the solutions implemented to cope with the current situation. Since Mid-March, Les Roches has been able to record over 4000 videos of academic content, with 100 new available each day, for students to access via Moodle, our Learning Management System. To keep a very tailor-made and personalized approach, online Q & A sessions for small groups exchanges have also been implemented several times a day to ensure students from all different time zone can participate.
Another technology rising in popularity in the education world, is Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Statista (2020), AI will undergo a massive growth in market value, going from 22.59 billion USD this year to 118.6 billion in 2025. This technology enables educators to analyze the performance of students in order to provide them with a tailored academic program in terms of content, pace and level of mastery. In the education system, Artificial Intelligence is currently used through conversational interfaces such as chatbots, messaging platforms, and virtual assistants. Additionally, it can also be used to ensure the integrity of the assessments. At Les Roches, we have implemented a system which allow us to verify the identity of the students during written exams.
Among others, Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that has the potential to transform education massively in the future. It has proven itself as an impressive learning tool that can make teaching fun and engaging. Instead of teaching students the history of ancient Rome from a textbook, they can just put on the VR headset and experience Rome for themselves. For instance, at the brain and behavior laboratory of the University of Geneva, researchers have the possibility to use an immersive virtual reality system to investigate complex behaviors in realistic scenes. The system is able to manipulate visual, auditory, and olfactory sensations while tracking the eyes, head, and body movements of the participant. Controlled by researchers, this tool can give a user a full immersion to a virtual world.
Les Roches is continuously implementing new technology in its educational system: an augmented Reality wall is on campus, 3D printers available for students among other equipment. Additionally, we are currently experimenting the use of virtual reality in virtual campus visits as an alternative to Open Days to create an immersive experience for students and families willing to visit the campus.
Digitalisation has been foreseen as a trend shaping the education but now it has become a necessity with the COVID-19 crisis being a catalyser of the digital transformation in the education world. To provide our students with the best tailormade experience, we make sure to embrace the best of both, the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ worlds.
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