Could there be a scenario soon where you could attend an MBA class as a hologram? Online learning has disrupted education, but is the next frontier going to be augmented reality? At the recent SHRM India Tech HR event, Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director IIM-B and Ranjan Banerjee, Vice Chancellor of the upcoming Nayanta University, discussed the role of technology in the continuous transformation of the education system.

From algorithmic learning to simulations, the next wave of change is upon the learning industry. The session started with moderator Pranjal Sharma, an economic analyst and former head of Bloomberg TV, asking the audience how many would like to attend a class as a hologram and surprisingly, a number of hands went up, showing how receptive people are to receiving education in different ways.

Tech literacy

The panellists said that tech literacy is a basic ask from each of the students for any future role. As Ranjan Banerjee said, “It is a horizontal today, not a vertical and it has to be embedded in all functions.”

Krishnan stressed that algorithmic learning is an important focus for any executive education system and it is something that is highly dependent on using tech wisely. “Algorithmic thinking is the underlying basis for all functions,” he said, adding that executive education is set to undergo significant transformation due to technology. Gen AI is fast becoming the base platform for learning, the panellists underscored. Banerjee said that the task before B-schools is to get executives to prepare for an uncertain future and the actions they would take. He said augmented reality helps people prepare for unexpected scenarios by providing the necessary tools.

A lot of B-schools depend on case studies to illustrate marketing and other strategies. Interestingly, the panellists felt that case studies could be replaced by simulations. A paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics says that simulations were found to be slightly more effective than case studies when teaching a topic like sustainable development.

The panellists also agreed that technology would help further break down the silos between disciplines in an institute. “The distinction between disciplines is largely man-made,” pointed out Banerjee.

Asked if students tend to absorb more in a face-to-face environment versus lessons delivered through an online medium, the panellists said a great teacher would be able to engage students, whatever the medium. However, Banerjee pointed out that good learning is a social process. He described how often students would waylay the teacher post class and the couple of minutes of interactions in the corridor yields to great learning. “We need to make sure that tech learning is combined and supported by social learning,” he said.