Business in Practice (BiP) is part of a broader effort to rethink business education. It is an approach to education that works closely with the business community to design, develop and deliver courses that reflect current business practices. It enhances and builds on the core curriculum and forms a bridge between theoretical principles and the application of those principles by the business community. It shows students how to marry their foundational knowledge with the latest tools, skills and techniques required to achieve professional success.
BiP seeks to recreate many of the benefits associated with externally generated high impact experiences in a controlled campus setting. Developed and delivered by business professionals who can speak from experience and provide content informed by their current work environment, students can obtain an inside look without leaving campus. As such, it affords students the opportunity to see how the theoretical constructs they have learned as part of the core curriculum can be put into practice. In this way, the core curriculum can be repositioned as an entry point that opens up the subsequent development of those tools, techniques and experiences that are of most value to employers.
What differentiates a BiP course or experience from those in our core curriculum is the intentional development of the appropriate skills that begins as part of the course design process. Each BiP course at its central core has some set of learning goals associated with the course content. For example, it may be the development of a specific skill, such as learning inbound marketing, how to visualize data or perform advanced analysis using a spreadsheet program. In addition, each course has developmental goals that impact the capabilities of learners to utilize what they are learning in ways that advance their professional development. These developmental goals are embedded in the course design; a design that intentionally fosters the growth of a set of soft skills.
To enhance the learning and developmental processes, course materials and activities are situated within a real business context. Instructors are recruited from companies based on their ability to convey ideas effectively
, and on their previous work experience. These instructors have first-hand knowledge and experience in the application of the tools, techniques, or skills they are being asked to teach in a given course. What makes a BiP course distinctive is the opportunity for a student to gain insights as they are shown how these tools and techniques are actually used.
To unlock the tacit knowledge and hence the true source of value a business professional has to offer, they often require special training in order to learn how to effectively share this knowledge with a group of students. What makes a person successful in business does not necessarily translate into functioning as an effective instructor. There is often a fear of possibly failing that holds back many professionals who otherwise would like to try teaching. Overcoming that fear through the development of a robust program designed to develop nascent instructional skills is crucial to the success of a practice-based approach to education.
The value of such an experience depends considerably on the selection of courses offered over the course of an academic year. Knowing what is most in demand and would best serve students when it comes time for them to embark on their professional career requires the careful curation of potential course ideas. By focusing on the ideas that will have the greatest impact given current market trends, it becomes possible to ensure that the practice-based curriculum is both current and relevant. While choices abound (especially on the internet), a great deal of value is generated through the careful selection of what affords the greatest return on the investment of time and effort.