Insead links around globe

Jane
Sommers-Kelly, managing director of Insead Online, explains how the business
school achieved its blended learning approach to course delivery

Insead
is generally thought of as one of the most respected educational institutions,
with campuses in both Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore. 

Set
up 40 years ago, Insead now has 650 MBAs, 5,500 executives and 40 PhDs from 70
countries worldwide passing through its doors every year.

Always
at the forefront of corporate development, Insead has now taken its learning
programmes one step further by announcing Insead Online. This acts as a
complementary service to Insead’s traditional face-to-face management
education, creating what is now called a “blended learning” approach to course
delivery.

The
decision to go online was made after existing Insead corporate clients such as
Shell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sony Europe and Cable & Wireless, expressed
a desire for their employees to have an online learning alternative.  As demand from these clients increased,
Insead Online was created.  Instrumental
in this development was Professor Soumitra Dutta, Dean of Technology and
eLearning at Insead.

Insead
Online will provide Internet-enabled courses, or modules of about three hours
each, such as Professor Manfred Kets de Vries’ module on leadership.  This, and other modules  on topics such as Innovation, Web Strategies
and Financial Accounting, will complement Insead’s already successful
classroom-based learning methods by building platforms and learning communities
for executive managers. A Learning Management System (LMS) will deliver, track
and assess student progress and performance throughout each module.

Feedback
from existing Insead clients has highlighted a requirement for training to fit
around the busy lifestyles of managers. Creating Insead Online has met this
requirement with the added advantage that it has fostered much closer
co-operation between Insead Online and clients, as feedback is easier and
quicker to receive.

I
am hoping that we shall launch a series of online modules to a selected group
of corporate partners for starters and expect to involve more than 1,000
participants during the first year.

Technology
provider

Docent
was chosen as the technology provider to make Insead Online a technical
reality. The Docent technology gives companies an e-learning platform that
makes management-level education easily accessible. We chose Docent primarily
because of the flexibility and adaptability of Docent Enterprise and Docent’s
local management.

Managers
access training modules via the Insead Online website. Insead Online is
developing the full functionality of this site using Docent Enterprise 4.7. The
system is run on a Windows NT Compaq server, giving Insead Online an
architecture that is completely scaleable and able to meet Insead’s rapidly
growing and evolving client needs.

Corporate
students can access Insead Online using most of the popular web browsers.
Students register online for a number of learning events, including self-paced
courses, attending virtual classes, one-to-one tutorials and traditional
classroom activities. 

Insead
Online is particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities created by its
virtual classrooms. These work by allowing managers, dispersed across the
globe, to attend an online lecture given by a professor. Managers can see and
hear the professor live over the Web, then participate actively by discussing
together or asking questions about the lecture in real-time.

“We
are very pleased with the system overall,” 
says Amit Jain, technical director of Insead Online. “We are not
specialists in technology, we are not technology developers, we simply had an
idea of how we thought online interaction should be, and built a model
accordingly. We want to enable people to learn whenever and wherever it suits
them. Docent Enterprise 4.7 played an important role in helping us to achieve
our vision.”

Managers
can complete a three-hour finance module at home before going on  campus to participate in a week of class
discussions and studies.  The cost, time
and travel implications are of obvious benefit to Insead’s corporate clients,
as all are reduced compared to pure classroom-based courses.

When
registered, managers can plan and select learning programs based on their
individual learning styles and needs. 

Insead
Online additionally offers learning recommendations to participants, such as
related reading material to augment module content. It continually assesses
learners’ knowledge and performance to ensure that their learning objectives
are being consistently met.

Docent
Enterprise contains an important tracking feature used by Insead Online to help
in its assessment of participants.  This
system continually tracks students’ work-in-progress.  

Additional
features include assignment submissions, so a learner working on a case study
could do the research and analysis on any PC. When the assignment is ready for
submission to Insead Online, the student simply logs on to  his or her “personal area” and uploads the
file. These personal areas are easily updated by the individual student, as and
when the student chooses.

Security

Security
is naturally a concern of Insead Online when it comes to holding personal data
online.  Users want to know who can see
their information and who has access to their personal profiles. 

When
someone registers with Insead Online, the system administrator will grant
access privileges to certain areas of the site.  These areas will be dependent on the status of the applicant. For
example, professors are given access to learner profiles so they can track
progress.  Learners are only granted
access to their own personal areas, ensuring they cannot see the  personal areas of others.

A
select number of corporate clients will have a taste of Insead Online’s
capabilities this month.  Insead Online
will then be offered to all interested parties from May 2001.

Verdict:
learn when and where you want

Using
Docent Enterprise, Insead Online created an e-learning platform that makes
management-level education easily accessible, giving Insead the ability to
offer online learning modules.

Jane
Sommers-Kelly says that Insead found the implementation of the technology
straightforward, with corporate students and professors finding the system easy
to access and user-friendly. “As Insead Online allows managers to complete
modules away from campus, the benefits to companies include time and money
savings, as training can fit around busy schedules,” she says.

Corporate
students learn when and where they want. They have the option to attend live
virtual classrooms, and to speak with the professors live over the Web.

Designed
and delivered by: Docent, Docent UK and Ireland, Regus House, 400 Thames Valley
Park Drive, Thames Valley Park, Reading, Berks RG6 1PT, Tel 0118 965 3472, fax
0118 965 3572, e-mail ksmith@docent.com,  www.docent.com

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