Weekend MBA Student Teams Advance Education Mission

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Part of the mission of WDI’s Education Initiative is to identify and share new ways to enhance management education in emerging markets. This can be achieved through the adoption of new business models, or the introduction of new programs or technologies, or a combination.

BSCK participants. Photo credit: BSCK via Facebook.

To assist in this mission, the Education Initiative will soon deploy three student teams comprised of Weekend MBA students from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as part of the school’s Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) program. MAP is an immersive learning course offered at Ross during which students tackle a real-world strategic project under the guidance of faculty advisors.

Two MAP teams will work on entrepreneurship projects in Kosovo and Morocco, and one team will examine e-learning at a major technical university in Georgia.

“The MAP project teams will work with local university faculty, administrators, and business people in the three countries,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of WDI’s Education Initiative. “After gaining an appreciation for the local context and challenges, the teams will make recommendations for how to move forward in leveraging global best practices, adapting them to local realities, and coming up with effective solutions.

“WDI will then share their findings, stimulating a fruitful exchange of ideas across the emerging markets. We hope this will ultimately lead to more effective delivery of management education.”

The MAP project focused on e-learning will travel to Georgian Technical University (GTU) in Tbilisi. At GTU, e-learning is mainly blended with traditional, lecture-style learning, and is considered a supplement to strengthen and enrich learning results. Most students there are well versed in technology and would like to see more e-learning components in their course offerings. However, GTU lacks an overall strategy on how to pay for and implement e-learning across the campus.

The MAP team will research current global best practices in e-learning, examine existing e-learning programs at GTU, and look at its technology infrastructure – among other things – to develop an overall strategy.

“We think that e-learning could improve education at GTU by making the formal educational process more flexible and learner-oriented, and reach a wider target group,” said Tamar Lominadze, professor of informatics and control systems at GTU.

Lominadze recently came to the University of Michigan as a visiting scholar at the Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia. While there, she met WDI’s Gillett and discussed a previous MAP project with the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia.

“I asked Amy about the possibility of developing a similar project for GTU in the field of e-learning,” Lominadze said.

With the upcoming MAP project, “we hope to obtain a more clear, strategic vision for the further long-term sustainable development of e-learning at GTU,” she said. “We have several problems to research. We hope that as a result of this project we will be able develop and implement the e-earning process at GTU in the most timely and cost-efficient way.”

The first of two entrepreneurship projects is with the Business Support Centre Kosovo (BSCK), located in the capital of Pristina. BSCK has leveraged many different support tools to promote new venture creation by young entrepreneurs, including entrepreneurship training, funding (grant or bank loans with subsidized interest rates), and no-cost consultancy.

The Ross MAP team will assess and evaluate BSCK’s efforts to date to develop local entrepreneurs and promote job creation, identify which of its initiatives have been most successful in developing entrepreneurs and potentially could be replicated in other post-conflict countries, and find possible gaps in activities and make recommendations on a strategy to further stimulate entrepreneurship in Kosovo.

BSCK Director Besnik Krasniqi visited Ross while he was a visiting scholar on a fellowship through the University of Michigan’s Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia. Krasniqi heard about MAP projects from Ross professors and MBA students, and came way impressed.

“I thought it is very important for Kosovo and BSCK to use this opportunity for cooperation,” he said.

He said having the MAP team evaluate the current tools used by BSCK to promote entrepreneurship “will help BSCK adopt a strategy for building a sustainable model for entrepreneurship development.”

The second entrepreneurship MAP project is at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.

Growing the entrepreneurial mindset is vital to economic growth and employment in countries around the world, including Morocco. Youth unemployment is 18.5 percent, and entrepreneurship provides a feasible solution to joblessness.

As one of the leading public universities in Morocco, Al Akhawayn promotes and develops the entrepreneurial spirit among its community members including students, faculty, and staff. This includes a required entrepreneurship course for all undergraduate business students, organizing and hosting of entrepreneurship competitions, and four centers at the university – the executive education center, the conference center, the Hillary Rodham Clinton Center for Women’s Empowerment, and the Center for Business Ethics.

The MAP team is tasked with providing Al Akhawayn with a roadmap for implementing an enabling entrepreneurship ecosystem leveraging the university’s assets and centers. This roadmap will be crafted in such a way that it can be duplicated at other universities in Morocco.

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