MBA Classroom of the Future: Hologram Professors

Laveta Brigham

McCombs Professor preparing to teach his class in a studio The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business schools to move classes online and limit campus interactions. While some b-schools initially announced plans to fully open campuses, many quickly revised those plans and, instead, decided to focus on virtual and hybrid learning […]

McCombs Professor preparing to teach his class in a studio

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business schools to move classes online and limit campus interactions.

While some b-schools initially announced plans to fully open campuses, many quickly revised those plans and, instead, decided to focus on virtual and hybrid learning models.

One b-school, in particular, has come up with a rather creative solution for the virtual learning environment: Hologram professors.

The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin recently announced plans to launch the classroom of the future with a new 3D immersive video solution that projects a professor into the classroom as a hologram. The b-school has partnered with Austin-based Contextual Content Group to create and implement the video solution.

“We knew we could make the digital experience better,” Joe Stephens, senior assistant dean and director of working professional and executive MBA programs at McCombs, says in a press release. “Enterprise, tenacity, curiosity and authenticity are the pillars of what we do at McCombs, and we’re doing all those things right now. We teach our students to innovate, and we’re practicing what we preach. That’s what innovation and the world of business is all about.”


Steve Limberg, who teaches an executive MBA class at McCombs, was the first at the b-school to utilize the hologram technology, called Recourse.

“This is an authentic experience because I can see all the gestures and the nuances that students are expressing, whether it be raising a hand or nodding, and as a result, it really is very much like being right here in the classroom,” Limberg says in the press release.

The hope is to keep both professors and students safe as the COVID-19 pandemic looks like it isn’t going away anytime soon.

“This technology is very robust,” Jim Spencer, CEO of Contextual Content Group, adds. “Our goal is to keep the professors safe, greatly enhance the in-classroom socially distanced experience, and also greatly enhance the online virtual experience, and I’m happy to report it works.”

Sources: UT News, austonia, P&Q

Applying to business school?

Be sure to connect and speak with students currently enrolled in MBA programs to learn more about a program. That’s what Soojin Kwon, Managing Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions and Program at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, advises applicants to do before even applying.

“Chatting with students currently enrolled in MBA programs can be a valuable part of your school research process,” Kwon writes. “At Michigan Ross, we have more than 200 current students willing, ready, and excited to connect with you, answer your questions, and share their Ross experiences with you.”

Kwon outlined a few tips for applicants to make the most of their time when connecting with current MBA students.


At Ross, the Student Ambassador page includes filters for applicants to search for students based on their career interest, club, citizenship, and region.

Kwon suggests applicants to connect with students whom they can relate to.

“Chatting with students is an opportunity to get first-hand perspectives on our school’s academics, recruiting, student clubs, the Ross community, what living in Ann Arbor is like coming from places like NY, SF, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, etc., what they were looking for in a school and how Ross met their criteria,” Kwon writes.


Prior to the chat, Kwon recommends that applicants do their research on the program.

“Simple things like deadlines, what our class profile looks like, which companies recruit on campus, etc. can be found on the Ross website,” Kwon writes. “By doing homework on a school in advance, you can have a more useful conversation.”

Additionally, experts say, applicants should use the conversation to focus on getting some perspective or insight into the application process.

“Talking to as many students and alumni as you can will not only help you narrow down your choices of where to apply, but will provide insight you can parlay into more convincing MBA essays and use to improve your admissions interviews, especially if conducted with second-year students or alums,” Stacy Blackman, who heads up Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes for US News.


Lastly, Kwon says, it’s important to remember that students are busy. Be sure to be respectful of their schedules.

“While student ambassadors want to be helpful and are happy to talk with candidates, remember that they are also balancing the demands of projects, exams, recruiting, and other things,” Kwon writes. “So, remember to be respectful of the student’s time.”

Sources: Michigan Ross, US News

Silhouetted shot of a young businesswoman looking at a cityscape from an office window.
Silhouetted shot of a young businesswoman looking at a cityscape from an office window.

The MBA application includes a number of components for applicants to tell a cohesive story around their experiences and goals.

Each component—from the personal statement to the resume—is important to the story. But what exactly do admissions officers focus on when looking for candidates to accept?

Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently broke down the key areas that admissions committees tend to focus on when looking at applications.


While there is no mandatory pre-requisite for MBAs around how work experience, data from US News finds that the average tends to be four years.

Additionally, Blackman suggests that applicants have at least three years of work experience before applying if they want to increase their chances of acceptance. She stresses, however, that the overall experience is much more important than the time length of the experience.

“Have you worked within flat organizational structures, where you’ve had the same title for years? You can still differentiate yourself by highlighting substantial professional growth and quantifiable achievements,” Blackman writes. “Or, by showing examples when you embraced new challenges and took advantage of learning opportunities.”

When discussing your goals, Blackman says it’s important to clearly identify a definite role you envision for yourself in the future.

“Explain the kind of impact you want to have in the business world and on society,” Blackman writes.


MBA admissions officers seek out leaders.

More often than not, applicants don’t have managerial positions under their belt.

Blackman says applicants shouldn’t worry about having an impressive managerial title and, instead, should focus on times when they demonstrated leadership skills.

“Successful leadership examples should show how you motivated other people,” Blackman writes. “Did you bring out their passions? Or, did you educate and help them see organizational priorities in new ways? The work of a leader energizes or improves the work of others. Find anecdotes from your professional and extracurricular background that illustrate this kind of behavior.”

In the end, Blackman says, demonstrating leadership is more important than a title alone.

“Define the leadership challenges you faced, not the management ones,” Blackman writes. “Collecting impressive titles does not make someone a great leader. However, helping a team overcome significant challenges does.”


Typically, b-schools will ask applicants to answer creative MBA essay prompts.

At Duke’s Fuqua, it’s the “25 Random Things About Yourself.”

At NYU’s Stern, it’s the “Pick Six.”

Blackman says admissions officers are trying to gauge how much creativity and intellectual aptitude an applicant can bring to the table.

“When evaluating your MBA candidacy, admissions teams will look for evidence in responses that show you have a unique perspective that will add something new to the classroom,” Blackman writes. “So, think beyond your obvious achievements. You can differentiate yourself by highlighting the most compelling, memorable stories and experiences.”


Lastly, Blackman says, admissions officers are looking for applicants who may be a good fit with a b-school’s culture.

To seek out these students, admissions officers often will often ask applicants to partake in video essays, team-based discussions, and group interviews.

The key, Blackman writes, is to make sure your application demonstrates that you have the right interpersonal skills to be a great fit to a b-school’s culture.

“Business schools want students who will play nice with others,” Blackman notes. “Watching how someone interacts with peers before anyone’s even admitted can be very telling. Your application and interview should support those individual attributes that make you a great candidate and person overall. They should reveal your understanding of the school’s culture. Finally, they must convey that you will be a terrific fit if admitted.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, US News, Duke Fuqua, NYU Stern

The post MBA Classroom of the Future: Hologram Professors appeared first on Poets&Quants.

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