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Minerva CEO Ben Nelson: “Artificial intelligence and virtual reality will become more important in the education system of the future”

Koldo Echebarria, Director General of ESADE: “Passion, competence and a culture of critical thinking are essential for the evolution of the education system”

“In the education system of the future, online artificial intelligence and virtual reality platforms will become very important in the transmission of knowledge. Education should teach us to be more flexible and provide tools for transformation,” declared Ben Nelson, CEO of Minerva, during a panel discussion on the future of education entitled “Reinventing Education: Reinventing ESADE After 60 Years of History”, organised by ESADE at 4YFN.

During the discussion, Koldo Echebarria, Director General of ESADE, commented that “education must be an learning instrument that will make us free”. Dr. Echebarria observed: “Passion, competence and a culture of critical thinking are essential for the evolution of the education system.” He added: “Learning goes beyond the limits of education; it is an enormous space, and it is produced not only in classrooms and educational spaces. The future of learning and education requires that we reshape the architecture of our organisations.” He concluded: “The future will not belong to just one institution.”

“Today’s technology represents not only a tremendous change in terms of learning habits and tools; more importantly, it represents a change in the organisational architecture of academic institutions,” explained Ivan Bofarull, Director of Global Insights and Strategic Initiatives at ESADE. “Business schools should concentrate on providing students with the tools they need to adapt to a constantly changing world and achieve their goals.” 

One of the best examples of this paradigm shift is Minerva, a university built from scratch in the 21st century using the technological tools available today. This shift “will lead to a more personalised learning experience, a better user experience for each student,” predicted Ben Nelson. “The impact of new players in the world of higher education will lead to a more decentralised model, rather than a model focused on the transmission and validation of knowledge.” 

The panel discussion also featured the participation of Mark Vernooij, Partner at the THNK School of Creative Leadership, which, like Minerva, is reinventing executive education and education in leadership. “Unstoppable technological and social changes are promoting certain frameworks of thought and more intermittent and superficial personal and human relations than what we used to see in the past,” he commented. “In this context, business schools have an enormous responsibility to foster critical wisdom in a society that needs not only good leaders but also a new kind of leadership.” In conclusion, Mr. Vernooij remarked: “We need to teach students to adopt multiple perspectives, to be more open to learning from diversity, to ask questions and to learn from others.” 

Reinventing education

“Reinventing Education: Reinventing ESADE After 60 Years of History” was just one of a series of events organised to commemorate ESADE’s 60th anniversary in 2019. At the start of the session, Koldo Echebarria, Director General of ESADE, commented: “Instead of looking to the past, we have reflected on what’s coming, taking the pulse of the unprecedented changes that are driving globalisation and the technological revolution.”

As part of its participation in 4YFN, ESADE Business & Law School also organised various sessions on a variety of topics. One session, held on the main stage of the fair, focused on the subject of natural-language understanding. The discussion was moderated by Luis Vives, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the ESADE MBA, and featured Stephen Mallik, CEO of ArtiE, and María Perillo, Chief Learning Officer at ABA English, as panellists. Another panel discussion, on the topic of big data and the online music industry, focused on the future of talent in the new digital age. The panel featured various ESADE alumni and entrepreneurs, including Marc Sanz, Head of Google for Education (South of Europe) and CEO of HAIL Studios; Vignesh Anand, Head of Partner Operations at Glovo; Daniel Martos, Recruiting Team Lead at TravelPerk; and Oriol Saludes, Director of Operations at Kemiex. Another session, organised in collaboration with SEAT, focused on digital intelligence and self-driving vehicles.