INSEAD Interview 

GO-Live: A solution as close to the classroom experience as you're going to find

Philip Anderson

Phillip Anderson is Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Academic Director of our Entrepreneurship Centre at INSEAD. We asked him how our new portfolio of synchronous, live, virtual programmes for executives – GO-Live – have empowered executives to continue investing in their skills and knowledge development in spite of the challenges and disruption in our lives. Here is what he told us.

 

Philip, the world has changed enormously in the last year. How has INSEAD been able to adapt to the so-called new 'normal'?

The Covid-19 crisis has forced everyone to shift to digital much faster than they would have done otherwise. For many organisations the challenge has been: if you can’t communicate and operate online, you risk going out of business. INSEAD too has had to adapt and to think about what we need to do to meet this changing landscape and respond to these new threats - and opportunities. For us the challenge has been delivering the same quality of experience to our clients, both for our legacy programmes, and for those programmes that were born digital. Fortunately, our tradition in innovation has permitted us to experiment with different kinds of techniques that actually produce results that we couldn't produce in a traditional classroom.

INSEAD GO-Live is the fruit of this innovation in teaching and learning. How are GO-Live programmes different to typical online learning experiences?

Essentially, the GO-Live experience is precisely that: it’s live. It’s not a canned exercise. There’s a dynamic to the GO-Live experience that is all about real-time interaction and exchange between learners and faculty that really catalyses the learning. I think it’s like the difference between a classical symphony and jazz. When you play Beethoven, you play what is written in the score. With jazz, the performance and outcome are different every night. GO-Live programmes are like that – each person is a dynamic participant and an essential part of the stimulus itself. It’s not just about the sage on the stage, so to speak.

How does the GO-Live experience replicate being in the classroom?

Well, they are not the same experience. With GO-Live you don’t get the same social dynamic that you do in a classroom. So, for example, if somebody says something amusing in the classroom, everybody's aware of it and you see a ripple of laughter go across the group. That's what really doesn't happen in this kind of environment. You lose that kind of sociality. But you do gain some things that in a sense compensate for that. There’s greater flexibility, for instance, in terms of how we group people and how we make them interact. In the classroom setting, professors also tend to talk to one side of the room more than the other. Here, you're talking into a camera to everybody so it's a more level playing field.

How do participants interact with faculty and with each other?

Again, in the classroom setting, there’s greater spontaneity in things like raising hands to talk and ask questions. With GO-Live, we get around this by using technology like polling. A technique I use is to ask direct questions to participants – to cold-call them in a sense – and then watch the poll wheels spin to see what others think and have to say. We also use shared tools like Google Docs, which help to capture and share feedback and input more efficiently. You can ask everybody in the class one question and get total feedback from everybody in 90 seconds, which is just impossible unless you have everybody in some kind of an online environment.

Does the GO-Live experience bring any advantages to learners that the classroom environment might not?

GO-Live has enabled us to keep on teaching at a time when face-to-face learning was absolutely impossible. So we have been able to deliver to clients whose development is mission critical, particularly during this time of Covid where everybody is doing business differently than they did before. There’s also an immediacy to the learning in the sense that you can learn something new, take it away and apply it instantly. In the classroom there’s greater lag in the implementation of new ideas. GO-Live creates much faster cycles of learning, where participants do something concrete, reflect and then come back to share the experience. And there are other efficiencies too. Using digital tools, in less than two minutes, you can get every single person in the session to contribute and then give people three or four minutes to look over the entire pattern of responses. So instead of stopping to reflect on what one participant said, the group has fast access to the overall feelings of consensus or discussion across the class. And that's really not possible in anything but an online environment.

How have participants responded to the GO-Live experience?

They really appreciate the ability to learn from wherever they are, whether that's the office or home. I think another thing that people really appreciate about GO-Live is the sense that you're with other people. So we find that camera view where you get to look at the wall with all of your participants is quite popular. It lets people look at one another in a way that is difficult to do during one-to-one types of conversations. We have people coming and saying: thank you so much for doing this, because I'm sick of using Zoom or WeChat or whatever. This actually feels a lot like a classroom and it's wonderful to deliver that kind of an experience to people.

How would you summarise the GO-Live experience?

Put very simply, this is a solution that allows INSEAD to give a client an option that they would not have otherwise. Many of our clients really need to train people now and cannot wait for the option of a face-to-face environment. For others in the longer-term, this offers an environment where the economic benefits are just huge, because you don't have to fly and people from everywhere and take them away from work. And this is a solution that comes about as close to a classroom as you're going to find.

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