A leading global EMBA program in China held Town Hall Meeting among students and professors online

A leading global EMBA program in China held Town Hall Meeting among students and professors online

whichmba.net 编辑部


On March 5, 2020, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm Beijing time, the first Town Hall Meeting of a world-leading global EMBA course in China was successfully held through the webcast. Students from four continents from all over the world connected to the Zoom system, showing their support and trust for the school to cope with changes, and also letting the professor and the course organizer get the students' concern for the next progress and planning of the course.

The organizer of the Town Hall Meeting is the Global EMBA operation team. They were accessing the system from the physical classroom on school campus in jinqiao, Pudong district, Shanghai, and hang the background picture of a school iconic building on the large writing whiteboard in the classroom. With the help of camera lights, the project operation director speaks to the students in the classroom facing an empty classroom. The school's Vice Dean and Provost, Professor XX (an overseas Chinese), and Vice Provost, Professor XX (an American), called in from Europe and Southeast Asia respectively, communicated with students about the challenges faced since the coronavirus outbreak, and further confirmed the school's central principle of supporting the course operation from a strategic perspective. They said that "we will never sacrifice or affect the learning effect of any students, and ensure that the experience is not discounted", as well as the following course implementation plan, student/alumni engagement plan and so on. Next, colleagues on the operations team will take on new tasks and become even busier.

‘I haven't been into this kind of excitement for a long time,' a colleague in the Global EMBA program quipped. They had more than 100 events hosting experience in large and small scale. ‘The whole process of preparing for the live broadcasting is problem solving, encountered numerous challenges.’ It is reported that the school's operation team has been working in the offline office as usual.

Professors' feelings about online lectures were not as bad as they thought. The feedback from students, especially from overseas students, is relatively positive, and they think that the school should do more such online courses. To enhance interaction with classmates, these online courses can complement formal offline courses. At present, the arrangement of online modules in the school lies in the transition. Although it is the offline suspension state, the learning does not stop, but continues. Therefore, professors will be invited to talk about some topics, students in the industry who have more resources will be also targeted to organize online sharing sessions. For the class of 2019, the course is just starting, so they can have some pre-course online, and there are marketing experts to talk about the epidemic. At present, the course time selected by the school is friendly to overseas students, which is 5-7 PM Beijing time, and may be postponed to 7-9 PM later, usually runs for 2-3 hours. This time in town hall, some students in North America get up from 3am to 5am in the morning to participate in the class, which is still a little too early.

Programme operation director of the above Global EMBA says the current approach is still a trial in the middle way. The lost intensive offline courses together with the global experience and company visits given to students will be made up in the future. The programme is able to recruit 80 executives from around the world every year from a wide range of industries, representing more than 30 countries, one of very few truly international executive programs in China. Their current difficulties may be the biggest among business school programme in China. Even if the coronavirus outbreak in China stabilizes and students from China are able to attend offline school classes, the programme team still has no clear way to deal with the arrangement of students flying in from all over the world, and how to go to all parts of the world for classes and visits in a near future.

The school's full-time MBA has been online for a month. It works. The software can support lectures as well as online breakout group discussions, and some courses are now rated higher even than offline ones. For the time being, the Chinese EMBA still uses the live broadcasting platform to give some large-scale lectures to the general public for marketing purpose. At present, every classroom in building B is brightly lit at night, dressed like a studio, are doing live broadcasting.

This business school was a joint project between the European Union and the Chinese government's ministry of commerce since 1995. Over the course of the past 25 years, it has become a world-renowned business school. It is already ranked fifth in the FT MBA ranking and fifth in the EMBA ranking. It has the largest EMBA programme in the world, enrolling around 720 students a year, of whom 640-650 are in Chinese and about 80 on global programmes, taught in English. Global EMBA students are currently taught in two classes. One is 4 days per month, one is 4 days in 2 months. There are some differences between the two classes. There are more Chinese students in the class 1 who meet every month. There are more overseas students in class 2 who meet bi-monthly. But the two classes can go across to each other. Sometimes in Shanghai, but also around the world, New York and Los Angeles in the United States, Zurich in Switzerland, Ghana in Africa and other places globally, these places have the cooperation school or the business school overseas campuses.

To compared with Harvard online classroom with a pioneering starting point and IE Business School WOW room with strategic support for school’s global vision, that Chinese business school’s newly developed Town Hall Meetings and Zoom classrooms are an short term emergency solution. But whether it will be developed out some pedagogies or made it a well fit part of a truly global programme, we will follow their new progress.