It has always been a little frustrating to me that our Twitter handle is @gbsnonline rather than @gbsn, which is not available. Nowadays, I’m starting to appreciate it more. Like many other organizations in business education, the on-the-ground, face-to-face part of our work has been on hold.
During my first year at GBSN, I was in 20 different countries in order to meet face-to-face with business school leaders from at least 50 more. While I’m not proud of the carbon footprint left behind, I learned a lot about GBSN in those meetings, especially from people in places I’ve never been, such as Pakistan, Nigeria, and Egypt. It was eye opening to see and experience management education from entirely new perspectives. By engaging people and schools where they are, we have been able to strengthen our network, build new programs, and increase our visibilityÑand articulate a bold new strategic direction for the organization.
However, while my travel schedule has been demanding, the reality is that the time I spent in face-to-face meetings was only a fraction of the time I spent in virtual meetings using platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp. For every onsite presentation I delivered, there was at least one virtual one. For every face-to-face event we hosted, we offered at least ten virtual ones, and participated in dozens more.
Indeed, the last month of coronavirus living has helped me to understand and appreciate GBSN as blended organization, one in which our essential work on the ground and face-to-face is complemented and supported by our work online. But it also helped to realize that we haven’t talked enough about our digital work. So here is a short guide to GBSN online, with some notes about how each has been useful in the current crisis.
For the Whole Global Business Education Community
- Cross-Border Webinars Ð GBSN webinars have been quite popular over the years (under the label cross-border coffee-break), and have been expanded to support schools during the crisis. Nearly 300 people registered for the “Stepping up your online game,” our most recent offering on April 1. Because the webinars have been around for years and easy to plug into, the system has provide a quick and easy way for us to support and collaborate with other organizations in our ecosystem.
- Opportunities Board Ð This searchable, simple to use platform provides access to a wide range of opportunities offered by or relevant to GBSN members. The Opportunities Board includes internships, fellowships, scholarships, competitions, grants, awards, training programs, and more. Although some opportunities are available only to members, a good many are available to the larger community.
- Discussion Groups Ð This is an area of growing interest in GBSN. A GBSN LinkedIn group emerged to people to share ideas related to business schools and the coronavirus, as well as general ideas related to management education for the developing world. As noted below, GBSN is migrating to an only platform to support other members-only communities.
- GBSN EMERGE, Blog, and Newsletter Ð Look for GBSN’s video series soon. GBSN EMERGE videos are designed to capture ideas, opinions, and innovations from around the world in a short format for many of us who don’t have time for longer webinars. Soon to be released are videos addressing the role of mobile learning in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, how business and business schools are adapting in Japan, and the more. The GBSN Blog and monthly GBSN Newsletter address current and relevant topics related to management and entrepreneurship education.
- Virtual Experiential Learning Library Ð Coming Soon. GBSN is starting an initiative to curate a library of virtual experiential learning products, tools, and platforms. This resource will include information about virtual field trips, games, projects, competitions, and programs.
For GBSN Members Only
- GBSN Steering Committees Ð These forward-looking Steering Committees meet virtually and provide thought leadership for the network. Current steering committees address the following areas: Experiential Learning, Case Method, Teaching Entrepreneurship, and Annual Conference. In addition, GBSN has advisory boards that meet online to support and guide GBSN overall.
- GBSN Member-Led Initiatives & Member-Only Opportunities Board Ð As the names imply these two popular GBSN offerings help to share member-led initiatives with potential applicants for a wide range of opportunities, including internships, fellowships, research projects, grant collaborations, and more.
- GBSN Cross-Border Collabs Ð Coming Soon. Offered monthly, these online collaborative sessions for members only address current topics to share innovations, define issues and problems, and develop new solutions. Participation in for members only and limited to no more than two participants per school.
Although it is not the main focus in this article, it worth mentioning three other initiatives which will strengthen our online presence over the next three months. First, in January we started migrating to an online association management system. This platform will help us to support and connect our members, which continue to grow in numbers and international diversity.
Second, as mentioned above, we are completely rebuilding our website. In addition to telling our inspirational story, it will offer more interactive access to our suite of online services, including the opportunities board, discussion groups, and steering committees mentioned above. Third, we have started to experiment with a number of online platforms ready-made to engage students, faculty, and staff in our mission.
In the end, our mission “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education” requires learning that is both effective and accessible, both global and local, and both personal and scalable. It is hard to imagine achieving that mission unless we are both face-to-face and online.
Dan LeClair is the Chief Executive Officer at the Global Business School Network. Widely recognized as a thought leader in management education, Dan is the author of over 80 research reports, articles, and blogs, and has delivered more than 170 presentations in 30 countries.