By William Abihanna (MiM2020)
Let me start with an honest truth: we were all taken aback, shocked, and disappointed when the school took the decision to close classrooms in March. However, I am now confident enough to say that LBS, both students, staff and faculty alike, have handled the situation extremely well. If I had to pinpoint a few positives and challenges of the virtual classroom experiences, I would select these:
- A high quality of guest speakers: Despite all the negatives, shifting to a virtual world has opened up an extraordinary amount of opportunities. With their great networks, many faculty had wished to invite great business leaders who eventually were not able to join due to the logistics of coming to London. The virtual classroom removed these issues, and in the electives I chose, I was able to meet and hear about the experience of many inspiring people, some of whom I might have never had the chance to speak with in my life.
- Accessible faculty: It can sometimes be challenging to have a conversation with a teacher at the end of class due to many students wanting to see her/him. Similarly, having our schedule fit with faculty’s office hours is not always easy. The online classroom experience made this so easy, with many faculty willingly staying online a bit more after class for discussions and debate, and being very flexible for one-to-one calls to discuss assignments or anything else.
- Rewatchable lectures: There are many reasons why one might not be able to join a virtual class. The good side of this situation is, if these reasons happen to be validated by the MiM office, no class content is ever lost! You don’t need to reach out to a friend, most classes are recorded and accessible via Canvas. This way, you are sure never to miss a class concept or any guest lecturer you wish to watch again! In addition, even if you do make it to class, recordings allow you to focus on understanding the course instead of taking notes continuously. For me, this was a massive plus.
- The social aspect: This one is, to me, the most important thing I missed in the virtual classroom. The ability to sit down next to your friends and chat during breaks while having a coffee was dearly missed. However, this is situation we will have to cope with regardless of where we study. Fortunately, whether it is through the Programme Office or the various student clubs and associations, many virtual events are organized to make the best out of this situation and make sure we keep connecting and having fun with our fellow classmates.
- The group assignments: When working on group assignments, which you will do a lot once you join LBS, once thing my study group and I really enjoyed doing was gathering in the Student Hub for lunch and discussing the assignment altogether. Unfortunately, the sanitary situation prevented us to do that but we were encouraged to organise virtual lunch and try to recreate this environment. While ensuring all efforts and assistance needed is at your disposal, LBS also insists on regularly collecting feedback from surveys or your student reps to make sure they respond to your challenges.
I won’t be denying this is a challenging time and COVID-19 has taken away a lot of things we enjoy and signed up to Business Schools for. However, I truly believe, relying on my personal experience and comparing with other friends, that the virtual classroom experience put together by LBS, and continuously improved, helped to make the best out of this situation.