Chris Forbes

Real-World Lessons Business Schools Can’t Teach You…Or Can They?

3 Real World Lessons Business Schools Cant TeachSit down with any experienced business leader and they will tell you the most important lessons of business can’t easily be taught in business schools. Or can they? Some innovative schools are teaching the otherwise difficult to learn business skills using virtual reality.

Business Schools, Virtual Reality and The Future

A recent Wall Street Journal article explored how some business schools like Stanford University are beginning to experiment with Virtual Reality (VR), by attempting to recreate the campus experience online, “Schools using the technology have found they are able to re-create the essence of the on-campus learning experience for students and faculty scattered across the globe.” This trend is promising, but still represents an academic approach that makes it harder to give students real-world business skills.

Other schools, like Oklahoma Baptist University and Indiana Wesleyan have taken VR learning to a deeper level. At these schools, VR learning isn’t just about business lectures online or a mock campus experience, their students learn business by doing business by using programs created by Vertical Learning Curve (VLC).

VLC president Daniel Sanders says his company’s programs meet the growing demand for well-educated and experienced workers, “VLC was created to improve the quality of training by giving students real world experience. Virtual reality business training can teach lessons that other business education approaches can’t.”

Business schools can’t teach you how to make important business decisions in real situations.

Some leaders say they know when to trust their intuition in business but how good are your instincts? Traditional business classes or books can’t give you real experience with making management decisions. With virtual reality training, students learn from their own decisions in real-time.

Linda Sasser, president of Impact Performance Group explains the value of gaining real world experience through virtual reality, “You’re not just learning, you have to make sure you make the right decisions. Because you are in that simulation. If you don’t make the right decision, consequences come with that. Well, that’s no different than when you are at work. Virtual reality can teach people as they go through school, not only about business learning but also give them practical experience.”

Business schools can’t teach you how to work with other people in business.

Business is about relationships. How are your people skills? Interacting with co-workers and customers in difficult work situations is part of everyday life on the job. The academic lessons you learn in business school can only take you so far. Virtual reality training puts you in the action of daily business activity.

Gary Schmidt, former Assistant Professor and Chair of Business at Simpson University sees VR training as a way to beef-up your people skills. “Probably one of the nicest ‘surprise’ opportunities provided by this type of ‘live action’ learning is the way subtle cues to human interaction can be introduced and then pointed out. Such relational IQ opportunities are very difficult to create in the typical class / text setting. While valuable in the domestic scene, these are, of course, worth gold in the international business realm.”

Business schools can’t teach you what it’s like to work in various departments of a company.

Business professionals emphasize the importance of getting the right people in the right places if a company is to succeed. Where in the company is the right place for you?  Academic business classes are good for allowing students to experiment with business scenarios, show them how to make widgets or manage a supply chain, but what if the best fit for you is to focus on international marketing? In the virtual realty world, you learn to work interdepartmentally with real companies, real products and real customer situations so that you can find your place.

International business professional Rodrigo Garcia of Quito, Ecuador believes VR education is like a digital internship, “Student’s skills are continually improved by going through the many departments in the virtual reality company just like a fast track internship in a real company. They interact in real time with managers, employers, vendors, and sales people.”

Virtual reality education is not only a way students will learn in the future, VLC already has fully accredited MBA & undergrad programs that permit students to gain experience by actually working in business management. Several partner schools have already taken advantage of this innovative technology with thousands of students benefiting from the virtual reality courses.

Are you interested in gaining business experience while you learn? Next time, instead of just reading a book, immerse yourself within a virtual company, interact with avatar colleagues and learn by participating in dynamic corporate scenarios.

Do you think VR will change what students can learn in business schools? Let’s discuss below.

Chris Forbes

Chris Forbes (@cforbesoklahoma) is co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits (Entrepreneur Press, 2011). He has also led social media strategies for businesses, nonprofits and political campaigns since 2007.

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