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AACSB Quick-Take Survey on COVID-19: Anticipated Positive Impacts

Some business schools are anticipating potential positive impacts as a result of the actions they've been forced to take during the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on higher education have been largely disruptive in a negative way, we wanted to learn whether some AACSB member schools were anticipating a “silver lining” to what they have been experiencing. In the quick-take survey on COVID-19, we asked respondents to describe any anticipated positive impacts of the actions they have been forced to take with the recent outbreak.

The most common potential positive outcome shared was that the school and/or university may further develop and expand its digital offerings. Related, many respondents shared that this event may encourage schools to rethink their faculty’s approach to online delivery of education, as well as their assessment of online learning.

The crisis will act as a burning platform to encourage more faculty to rethink their approach to technology and to see how it can be used to provide a more engaging student experience. It will also force us to consider alternative forms of online assessment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps accelerated the rate of change necessary to move the business school in the right direction, particularly with respect to the development of online and blended degree programs and short courses (micro-credentials).
If a professor carefully prepares his/her class for online lecture, these courses might be moved to online in the future to attract more students.
Hopefully [we] will avoid worst of the impact of COVID-19. Also, [we] will have more faculty exposed to teaching on-line which, if they have a good experience, may increase the variety of courses offered on-line in the future.

The impact on faculty’s role was mentioned throughout the survey, from how this event may influence hiring qualifications to include increased technological competency, to providing faculty with more resources, training, and support in effectively leveraging technology platforms in their teaching. Several also noted that they might change remote-working policies, as well as rethink travel expectations if this experience proves that quality work can be delivered at a distance—which some viewed as potential for enhancing work-life balance.

At the same time, about a tenth of responding individuals anticipated only negative or no positive residual impacts from the pandemic, indicating that the strain on the global economy could be far too great and contribute to the potential of scaling back on initiatives, staff, and strategic goals. Nonetheless, improved crisis/contingency planning and management was one of the most mentioned anticipated, positive activities resulting from the ongoing crisis, as one respondent characterized:

When hypothetical situations start to become reality, your perspective on readiness becomes more precise.

Regardless of opinions on the degree of how positive versus negative potential outcomes are, one can argue that in the future, higher education may be better prepared to react and continue operations should another, or similar, event happen.