Asia School of Business

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Innovation: What Many Schools Miss in Digital Learning: Strategy


Sanjay Sarma, who became dean of the Asian School of Business in March, may well know more about digital learning than any other academic on the planet. He spent nine highly formative years from 2013 to 2022 leading MIT’s work on digital learning. It was Sarma who, in 2015, conceived of and then led the launch of the MicroMasters, a new credential for working professionals to pursue master’s-level courses online.

Nearly 2 million students have since enrolled in one of the five MicroMasters offered by MIT, and 5,000 learners have earned MIT MicroMasters. Sarma also began MIT Bootcamps, which offers blended learning experiences for entrepreneurs, and which has reached over 2,400 learners. “Digital is a certainty,” believes Sarma. “We should not see it as a replacement for in-person. We have to see it as an enhancement to in-person and for those who don’t have access to skills that are fast moving.”

While many business school deans may think this obvious, Sarma sees a serious challenge in how schools are moving forward with online learning. “What is missing is the strategy. Just throwing your hat into the ring doesn’t solve the problem. If you don’t have a strategy you are just another player among many.”

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This article was originally published on Poets&Quants