[photopress:avatar_mba_students.jpg,full,alignright]There is a virtual world on the Internet called Second Life. An argument could be made that it is but a retreat from real life but it is staggeringly successful. Commercial companies have not been slow in become a part of Second Life — it now has its own banks and insurance companies. Now it has its own international business school — INSEAD. (Our illustration does NOT show students of that illustrious organization. But the trio is pretty typical of the people I meet on Second Life. Perhaps I am mixing with the wrong crowd.)
This is both a real and a virtual international business school with real-world classes in France and Singapore but soon to have classes in virtual campus which it is in the course of building on a virtual island.
INSEAD is one of the first management schools to dip a toe into the online economy although several other business schools are studying it. The school has hired three architecture students — Botond Molnar, Balint Halasz, and Peter Vikar — to create virtual classrooms suitable for lectures that will supplement in-person learning.
INSEAD has also commissioned laboratories for research and lounge areas for students to meet with professors, potential employers, and one another.
There has been a test run at which one student turned up for a virtual class as a virtual fox. Now the hiccups are being removed. Miklos Sarvary, associate professor of marketing and manager of the International Centre for Learning Innovation at INSEAD said, ‘The purpose is to do everything we already do but better.’
His view is that besides putting the INSEAD community at the forefront of new technology this plan is to help the school cut back on travel and physical building expenses. It also enables the program to make good on its commitment to diversity by bringing together students and professors from across the globe.
INSEAD’s area is a work in progress, but it already boasts a tree-lined walkway and large screens that provide information about the school. Eventually, students will be able to download documents, work in teams, and meet alumni at a campus café. It is also possible to set up relationships with other students.
Those interested in applying to INSEAD will be able to head to a public space in Second Life to gather information about the school’s various programs. But unless you know Second Life you might easily get lost. Perhaps there should be a Second Life 101 course in there somewhere.
There are 5 million members of Second Life — including this writer who goes there for a baser purpose — and residents have created 5,617 islands. or virtual entities, such as INSEAD’s campus. IBM has built numerous islands on the site to train employees, offer speed mentoring, and break down barriers among staffers spread out across the world.
So it may well be a good starting point for an MBA. Mark you, if gaining an MBA means you only get paid in Linden dollars, the currency of Second Life, then it might not be overly-attractive. There is a strong feeling that this is the way of the future not as a replacement for university but as a supplement. It will take a while for it to be accepted but it seems inevitable.
Source: Business Week