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A new digital reality enters the MBA classroom

February 13, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
richard_swanborg_and_venkat_venkatraman.jpgFebruary 13, 2012 by Rebecca Knight via -- On a chilly, sun-splotched Monday morning earlier this month, 16 MBA students at Boston University School of Management ambled into Room 326, known internally as "the studio", to discuss the topic of the day: cars and cloud computing.

As the class began, the students, already divided into two teams -- one portraying Google, the other Microsoft -- bent over laptops and iPads to prepare their PowerPoint slides. Then two executives, one an expert in cloud computing located in a suburb of Boston, the other a former head of digital innovation at Volkswagen based in Detroit, were beamed in via TelePresence to the giant LCD screen at the head of the room.

As the students' slides appeared on the six smaller LCD screens around the room, the teams took turns to present their ideas. Their professors, Venkat Venkatraman and Richard Swanborg, hardly spoke at all. Periodically, they would solicit a reaction from the experts or write a key phrase from the class discussion on the interactive Mondopad, an oversize tablet with a digital whiteboard.

Welcome to the future of management education. As business schools try to infuse more reality into their classrooms, the old "sage on the stage" model, where a professor lectures a class and interaction is limited to case debate, is going the way of text books.

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