The Amplification Effect through Project Based Learning: ICFAI’s Online MBA Program

EducationWorld October 2022 | Spotlight Feature
– Prof. R Prasad, Director (Academic Wing), ICFAI Group

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle

The Center for Creative Leadership finds that 70% of learning comes from challenging experiences and assignments, 20% from developmental relationships and 10% from coursework and training. The finding is based on 30 years of research on work based experience. Popularly known as the 70:20:10 model for Learning and Development, it shows that, leadership can be learnt.  Leaders are be molded, if not born.

So why should one enroll for a program when 90% is achieved otherwise? Let me illustrate with the case of the fully Online MBA program from ICFAI. This program is designed to provide an amplifier effect. The 10% program amplifies the other 90%. How does this happen? By design. There are many mechanisms used in the program design to achieve this. The course project is one of the key mechanisms.

Course projects: The Online MBA program seeks to draw from the learner’s work experience through the pedagogy of course projects.  Studies in India indicate that important sources of learning are bosses and superiors, turnarounds, increases in job scope, horizontal moves, new initiatives, personal experiences and crossing cultures. Everyone working or has worked in the past, has access to some of these sources if not more. Those who are yet to start can use the form of internships or market studies to start off.

Sounds easy right? But implementation is not that simple. Quick learners, understand at the first go and connect to the design. Many of the others need faculty facilitation. The faculty will need to spend time understanding the learner’s aspiration and help connect conceptual frameworks with learner interests and experiences. Together good questions for study will need to be arrived at. This leads to project based learning.

Faculty Support: So what is challenging? The faculty mindset needs to be one of ‘guide on the side’ not ‘sage on the stage’. Conventionally classroom sessions are seen as the primary learning space. The equivalent in online learning is seen as live sessions. This, often pushes other key forms of learning such as project based learning, experiential learning, peer learning to the background. But then this is where the 90% lies! Hence the skill of the faculty in mentoring rather than teaching counts hugely. This is a craft which faculty can learn with practice, focus and leadership support.  Over a period of multiple batches we have seen faculty becoming more facilitative than they were earlier, in turn leading to more learning autonomy, self-direction and amplification in learning outcomes.

Concept- Context multiplier: The Vice Chancellor of the ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education Prof L S Ganesh, who is an expert in systems thinking points out that learning outcomes are multiplicative of factors which contribute to it. They are not additive. We fully agree. In management education, context is as important as concept if not more. The learner’s creativity and imagination for complex problem solving are triggered within a context. All the prior experience as tacit knowledge needs to situate itself within a context. So how should pedagogy work?

The efforts derived out of learner experience and peer discussion around the fulcrum of the course project and faculty mentoring serve as a fulcrums to amplify the learning. So context multiplies concept. The more contextual understanding one gathers as experience, the more the outcomes are. It also emphasizes the point that multiple contexts multiplied by conceptual knowledge multiplies learning outcomes.

Use cases: The ICFAI Online MBA course projects are offered in every course subject to student choice. Learners may choose based on their characteristics and faculty advice. The course project is also part of assessment and can dominate the learning outcomes. As can be seen, multiplication increases learning outcomes and makes such learning more impactful. It also serves the employer better, leading to possible recognition and reward. Here I recall two instances, to drive the lesson home. One learner who works in a petrochemicals sector abroad, leveraged such learning outcomes to switch his area of work from quality control to supply chain. Another learner from a leading public sector company received management appreciation for the organizational relevance of an integrated course project done in the area of human resources development.

Fully online learning is an exciting and engaging experience beyond watching videos and sitting for online sessions. Personalization through methods like course projects make them so. ICFAI’s Online MBA design is supportive of multiple initiatives in the areas of content personalization and assessment personalization. Course project is one such. You may contact 08069123123 or WhatsApp  9160001175 or email [email protected] or visit online.ifheindia.org for more further information on the program or pedagogy.

Also read: EWIHER 2022-2023:India’s Top 100 Private B-Schools

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