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Friday, June 2, 2023

Academics & Research

Bauer plans to beef up distance learning and cross-disciplinary programs

The C. T. Bauer College of Business plans to increase digital learning to improve accessibility. | File photo

The C. T. Bauer College of Business plans to add more distance learning opportunities. | File photo

The C. T. Bauer College of Business is revamping its education strategy for the next five years to provide more accessibility to students through distance learning and keep up with a business landscape increasingly motivated by the need to work across various fields.

As some business schools are seeing declining applications to MBA programs, programs at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business school and UH’s Bauer College are adapting their approach to better prepare students for the current market. Through its new strategic plan, Bauer plans to beef up digital learning capabilities and encourage students to think of businesses in a cross-disciplinary manner by adding more joint programs, among other things.

“As a premier business school, it is our duty to think strategically about how to best educate and train students for success, help organizations with our research to tackle the decade’s new challenges and empower the community and society to leverage emerging technologies to become more just and fair,” said C. T. Bauer College of Business Dean Paul Pavlou in an email.

Pavlou, who became Bauer’s Dean last year, said he “hit the ground listening” to the UH community for guidance to shape the college’s next steps. One main focus of Bauer’s new approach is increased accessibility for remote learners and incorporating digital tools in the classroom.

The coronavirus pandemic and its consequent social distancing measures have brought some of this technology to online classrooms this semester, so Bauer is quickly working to develop resources for students and faculty who may be learning online for the first time, Pavlou said.

“As part of our strategic plan, our objective is to become a leader in instructional innovation and digital learning, as part of offering a world-class education that is accessible and affordable,” Pavlou said. “The recent virus outbreak is likely to expedite the transition to technology-enhanced instruction and digital learning.”

Before UH moved all of its Spring and Summer 2020 courses online, Bauer had already created a 15-member digital learning task force to develop a strategy for enhanced distance learning to help the college be more accessible, Pavlou said.

Looking ahead, some courses may be fully online while others will be traditional classroom experiences, complemented with digital resources.

Pavlou said part of the college’s five-year strategy is the plan to augment online learning by converting classrooms into “Zoom rooms,” which will be equipped with voice-activated cameras that will point to instructors or students and stream the class to students connecting remotely, who will be able to interact through large screens in the classroom.

Overall, Pavlou said, the school is experimenting with leading-edge technologies to enrich both traditional and online education.

“By leveraging the power of face-to-face interaction in the classroom with the ability to allow students from anywhere in the globe to virtually enjoy the traditional classroom experience, we hope to allow students the best of both worlds,” Pavlou said.

Another goal for the college is to increase cross-disciplinary teamwork and education to better match the real-world business scenarios students will encounter in the workforce

Bauer  currently offers joint MBA degrees for law, pharmacy, hospitality management, social work and industrial engineering, though the college is working with others at UH to develop new programs. Pavlou hopes to add joint MBA degrees with the College of Nursing, the McGovern College of the Arts, the College of Optometry and the College of Technology.

Bauer’s education plan also reflects UH’s position as a university in a major city with varied business connections. Pavlou aims to emphasize industry engagement through experiential learning opportunities to prepare students for careers after graduation, while also striving for students to understand their role as future business leaders.

“Our goal is to train a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs who can work across disciplines to leverage new technologies and tools to transform lives, advance organizations, reinvent industries and better society,” Pavlou said.

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