Virtual reality to bring INSEAD Executive MBA learning to life


Dubai, UAE: INSEAD, the Business School for the World with a campus in Abu Dhabi, announced at a press briefing last week that virtual reality (VR) will be applied to enhance the learning experience for those enrolled in the school’s Global Executive Master of Business Administration (GEMBA) programme.

An immersive learning masterclass of Mission to Mars was introduced at the briefing to showcase the technology and highlight how it redefines the management and executive learning at INSEAD. 

In this experience, participants ventured out to the red planet using VR headsets. They moved between the immersive journey and the classroom where they analysed and discussed the different events. This interactive, hands-on session offered the participants a deep learning experience on effective decision making in complex and ambiguous situations.

INSEAD launched its VR Immersive Learning Initiative pre-pandemic in 2019 to boost engagement, retention of knowledge and personalisation of learning. Today, more than 4,500  MBA and executive education participants have experienced VR as part of INSEAD programmes around the world, both remotely and in classrooms at its campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.

“After worldwide lockdown forced us to pivot from physical to all-online training, we immediately saw the potential for virtual reality to compensate for the weaknesses of purely distance learning, such as Zoom fatigue,” said Ithai Stern, INSEAD Professor of Strategy and Academic Director of VR Immersive Learning Initiative.

VR revolutionises the traditional case study method that business schools have been using for over a century. 

Some of the benefits are:  participants have a highly individualised experience, responsive to real-time head movements, offering executives the chance to think through a situation in a safe and controlled environment, making decisions without feeling judged by other participants, or sensing pressures by any management that may also be participating.

In a recent Price Waterhouse Coopers study, learners who underwent inclusive leadership training via virtual reality felt more connected to the material, were more focused while learning, took less time to train and were more confident about applying what they had learned, than peers who took the same course in the classroom or online.

“Through an immersive 3D simulation involving scripts and actors, participants can be plunged into a lifelike conference room setting with a debate in full swing, or a tense close-quarters negotiation with fraught power dynamics on display,” Professor Ithai Stern said. “Just as they would in life, they must use their wits and powers of perception to come to grips with the situation and determine next steps.”

Virtual reality experiences teach participants a lot about themselves in a very short time frame and are to be preceded and followed by in-depth collective discussion in order to maximise the individual insights as well as detouring from what is the more standard classroom format.

“We don’t envision that virtual reality will replace existing executive educational tools and approaches, rather it will add a new dimension to the classroom – both virtually and physically – without taking anything away,” Professor Ithai Stern said.

About INSEAD, The Business School for the World:

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society. Our research, teaching and partnerships reflect this global perspective and cultural diversity.

With locations in Europe (France), Asia(Singapore) and the Middle East(Abu Dhabi),and now North America (San Francisco), INSEAD’s business education and research spans four regions. Our 166 renowned Faculty members from 41 countries inspire more than 1,500 degree participants annually in our Master in Management, MBA, Global Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance, Executive Master in Change), and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD Executive Education programmes each year.

INSEAD continues to conduct cutting-edge research and innovate across all our programmes. We provide business leaders with the knowledge and awareness to operate anywhere. Our core values drive academic excellence and serve the global community as The Business School for the World.

The Global Executive MBA (GEMBA)

Taking place in three fully integrated campuses across three regions: Europe (France), Asia (Singapore), and the Middle East (United Arab Emirates), the INSEAD GEMBA programme is a top destination for experienced professionals looking for a fast-track education at one of the world’s leading, globally recognised business schools.

The INSEAD GEMBA programme offers an unmatched, immersive and powerful learning experience that bridges theory and practice paving the way for particpants to reep immediate and life-long benefits from their learnings.

Boasting a global network of over 64,000 alumni, INSEAD graduates gain access to one of the most diverse and globally connected network of professionals, paving the way for world-wide career opportunities.