Over the past few weeks, our team has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that our new hybrid classes exceed expectations. As our students know, we constantly strive for academic excellence and are focused on offering high-quality education.
This means delivering the best possible learning experience, no matter the circumstances. Steve Mallon, education consultant, trainer and coach is here to tell you more about what we’ve been up to.
About Steve and the faculty training programme
Steve teaches two Master’s courses at ESEI: Leadership and Organisational Behaviour and Global Governance and International Organisations.
He worked together with our Head of Academics Rosanna West to design and deliver our faculty training programme. The aim of the programme was to help teachers adjust to the current circumstances and optimise their lessons for the new hybrid learning model. Most of all, though, it was designed to support students during these unpredictable times.
It consisted of four interactive sessions. Teachers had the chance to participate in activities, have discussions with each other, give feedback, and brainstorm solutions to potential issues that they might have.
Here’s what Steve has to say the programme:
Laying down the foundations for hybrid learning
The global outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year disrupted everyone’s plans. International travel bans, which continue to persist, meant that not all of our students were able to join us at the beginning of the semester.
To give everyone a chance to start their studies as planned, we made the decision to make all our courses available both online and in-person. That way, students who needed to stay home for a few more weeks or months could join our classes remotely. This allowed them to postpone their moves to Barcelona as long as needed.
This decision meant that our entire faculty would need to familiarize themselves with a completely new way of teaching and learning. We would have students physically present in the classroom, and others joining in online from wherever they are in the world.
It sounds complicated, but we were determined to make it work. And one of the main objectives of the teacher training programme was to come up with tactics that would help us deliver hybrid classes effectively.
In fact, the teacher training sessions were also done this way, with some teachers present on campus and some tuning in online. So, we had a chance to trial the concept.
“We realised that the best thing we could do would be to minimise the distinction between the on-campus and the online students, to try and get them to interact with each other as much as possible,” said Steve.
Instead of trying to juggle the two formats, the best approach would be to integrate them as much as possible.
“The idea that emerged was that we would ask the students who are physically present in the classroom to connect to the Zoom meeting as well. That way, everyone can see and talk to each other, everyone can participate, and we can break into groups,” he said.
After a couple of weeks, we’re proud to say that it has been working well!
What if technology fails?
At first, the new hybrid lesson format posed lots of challenges, most of them related to technology.
“Hybrid classes are tricky. Everything depends on the technology,” Steve said. “When I first started teaching, all I had was a piece of chalk and a chalkboard. But now, it’s like you have this giant checklist that you need to tick off before you can even begin your class.”
That giant checklist includes things like a high-speed internet connection, a working microphone and camera, and a PowerPoint presentation created in advance. Of course, the ESEI campus has all the tools and equipment teachers need to make hybrid classes happen. But sometimes, the gods of technology just don’t want things to work.
“One of the main takeaways from the teacher training sessions was that we should all give each other the permission to know that it’s not going to be perfect,” said Steve. “We can’t control all the moving elements, so we just have to try and do our best.”
And when things don’t go to plan, it’s fundamentally important to have a support system. We’ll talk about that next.
Building a community
ESEI is different from other business schools in a lot of ways. One is that we put a lot of emphasis on forging a community. And that’s not just among our students, but among our faculty members, too.
“At most private business schools, teachers tend to just wander in, deliver their class and leave. They don’t have any sense of affiliation with the school or the students. But at ESEI, there’s a push to create a community so the members of the faculty are aware of each other and support each other,” said Steve.
It’s very important to us that we function as a team. When one of our teachers has a problem, we want them to be able to discuss it with their colleagues, get advice and feel supported.
That way, we can tackle the challenges of hybrid teaching together. This makes sure that we’re providing our students with all the help they need to succeed in this new learning environment.
Why we’re so proud of our students
Another thing that’s different about ESEI is our students. In spite of everything that’s going on in the world, they’re staying focused on building their professional careers and getting their degrees.
“I think there’s something heroic about the students who signed up this year. Because it would be a lot easier for them to just postpone until ‘after’. I hear that a lot. ‘I’ll do this after.’ And I think that’s really sad,” said Steve.
“Never has there been a global crisis through which people can still learn. If this had happened, for example, 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have had a choice. But now, learning doesn’t have to stop,” he adds.
According to Steve, our students are happy to be a part of something positive. They’re switched on and laser-focused on learning and building their future.
“Undoubtedly, the future will be very different than any of us had imagined a few months ago. But won’t that future be made better by the people that are choosing to keep going rather than give up?”
If you’d like to be a part of something positive too, check out our programmes and join us for the spring semester!