Written on 04 February 2020.
Understatement of the millenium: Times are changing. Fast. For Emmanuel Métais, EDHEC is not the kind of place that simply waits to see what the future will bring. “We are making the educational experience a point of policy. It’s a part of who we are and improving the journey for every student is something we truly believe in.” Says Emmanuel Métais, “Any business school that wants to thrive today has to embrace the challenge of ongoing evolution. We’re setting the example.”
Dean Métais has long seen the importance of the student experience at EDHEC. “It’s one of the key assets of our business school and a clear point of differentiation for the future. For me it seemed obvious that we needed to build this aspect in an organized way, which is why we assembled two years ago a dedicated management team to focus on the Educational Experience.” The 130-strong taskforce, which covers all but the academic departments, is headed by Associate Dean, Anne Zuccarelli.
Anne Zuccarelli points out that calling it ‘Educational Experience’ was intentional, to underscore how all the school’s activities support or complement the academic side of the EDHEC experience. “The approach encompasses many aspects not commonly associated with a student’s journey through EDHEC and beyond.” The initiative includes the organization of programs, IT and facilities, the Career Center for life, the pedagogic innovation lab, in fact every element that goes into creating the student’s journey within our campuses.
“The linchpin in the whole operation is the student’s voice,” explains Anne Zuccarelli. “This doesn’t mean that everything bends to the slightest whim of the student body, however everything is being reconsidered through the lens of student needs.” More than ever before the students' impressions, opinions, ambitions and wishes are being woven into the thread of our institution. At EDHEC, the student experience rests on four pillars: academic life, social and club life, international life, and connection with business.
In the academic sphere, we’re moving towards a three-channel model where students can learn in a combination of classroom, online and teamwork activities. This approach allows us to know each student better, especially with the online aspect, and enables personalization. We’re also looking at this as a superb opportunity to innovate. Hand in hand with the pedagogic laboratory, we’re working on training programs for teaching staff, creating tutorials so parts of their teaching can be available digitally, and supporting the process by sharing best practices. For students, the promise of ultimate flexibility is becoming a reality. It will mean they can choose to be present or remote, all the time or sometimes.
With over 80 associations active under one roof, our students are spoiled for choice. Connecting with others is an integrated component of the Educational Experience. So too is the health and wellbeing of students. Anne Zuccarelli is emphatic that mental well-being in particular is on their radar.
As a vital pillar of EDHEC, exposure to international experience is one of the best advantages we offer our students. They now have the opportunity to do study stints with more than 280 of our academic partners across the planet.
Every EDHEC campus is a cosmopolitan hothouse of nationalities so wherever students find themselves, they’re meeting people from a broadrange of backgrounds, expanding their horizons on many levels.
EDHEC International BBA Director, Alessia Di Domenico, points to testimonials by students themselves which suggest that “the educational experience at EDHEC transcends our campuses and is conveyed to future candidates.” She says current focus is on developing the reach of digitalization in the program. “It will allow us to deliver engaging content across the board, with the right mix of contact hours and online content. We want to reflect the shift in the needs of the job market and in students' professional objectives.”
Helping students plug into their educational experience–anywhere, anytime–has become simpler with My EDHEC. This student intranet portal and app offers digitalization with the human touch. In one virtual place, they can access all information relevant to the educational process and student life, from course content and timetables to internship offers and partner universities abroad.
This is an EDHEC specialty and we’re sharpening our edge all the time. A big differentiator is the Teaching Factory that brings companies inside the academic experience. For example, there’s the Open Innovation seminar that throws together 24 businesses and 800 students for two days of innovation problem-solving. Says Anne Zuccarelli, “We’re intensifying students' exposure to opportunities with a sharper focus on initiatives like the Talent Identification & Career Development program. This adds up to 360 hours per student and 100 careers events a year.”
EDHEC has also developed the Explora digital certificate where eight companies submit real-life digital brainteasers to students who have four months to come up with a prototype. The collaboration can feel as close to being on staff as the real thing.
In the same way as brands look at User Experience (UX) both in a holistic way and touchpoint by touchpoint, EDHEC is walking a similar path to improve what students experience. Almost like a great brand managing its relationship with valued users. Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Michelle Sisto, emphasizes the advantages of a rounded Educational Experience for our Grande Ecole students. “They graduate with professional experience, international experience and a solid academic and professional tool-kit that renders them attractive to employers as well as able to start their own businesses.” Students are the center of our universe so whatever happens in reengineering the learning experience has to spiral out from them.
The student-centric approach leads us to solutions that make the learning experience ever more personal. And give it enduring relevance through the EDHEC alumni network.