Vlerick Master Class participants enthusiastic about paperless iPad approach

After a first successful pilot project to replace paper with an iPad in the Financial Services and Insurance MBA programme, a second pilot project has recently been launched for the Executive Master Class in B2B Marketing & Sales. All participants received their own configured iPad with the materials they needed for the first module of the programme.

This initiative takes the previous pilot project one step further, using very user-friendly technology to enable participants to easily and swiftly download course material to their device whenever needed. Vincent Bagué, head of the Vlerick Learning Innovation Centre, explains: “We opted to work with Showpad. This app makes sure tablet users always have the latest digital content on their device. After logging in, participants can see several chapters linked to the various modules of the programme. Downloading the material happens in no time. Content can be updated or added at any point in time – which comes in handy when, for example, you only want to distribute the solution to a case afterwards.” Apart from the slides, Showpad is also used for distributing all kinds of media, including video.

Taking notes on the iPad with a stylus (a special ‘pen’ for touch devices) required some practice, but most of the participants caught on quite rapidly, says Vincent Bagué: “Taking notes on the iPad has various additional benefits, such as sharing notes with other participants, or integrating information from the internet, such as screenshots, links, etc.

A richer content experience

The participants are clearly enthusiastic about the new paperless approach, which is not only eco-friendly but also meant to stimulate more interaction in the classroom, according to Vincent Bagué: “It needs to be so much more than merely an electronic page turning system, avoiding print costs and saving paper. We want to encourage group dynamics, interactivity and a richer content experience.” An approach that seems to be working from the first reactions we are receiving.

For Sander Boom, VP Customer Services at Newtec, working with the iPad was a true revelation, opening up a wealth of new possibilities and greatly enhancing the efficiency of the interactions in the group. “My personal notes are nicely integrated with the course materials but they can also be enriched with notes and whiteboard snapshots from other teams or pictures dug up instantly from the web. Moreover, I carry my materials with me at all times, while the traditional binder would quickly wind up in a cabinet. Faster, more comprehensive, more interactive, more effective: you bet I’m already using it in a similar way in my professional life!”

Steven Haneca, Product Manager at Insurope, also feels that the iPad approach integrates perfectly with the format of the course, in which participants regularly discuss the cases in small groups and report their findings to the whole group. “During these discussions, we have all necessary information readily available, without needing to search through piles of paperwork. We can immediately put down our conclusions and findings in a format that makes it easy to present via the projector. Afterwards, everything can be shared again. And at the end of an intensive learning day, you can fill in the evaluation form in a minute. This device has already replaced my notebooks, sticky notes and flip chart at my office.”

Professor Marion Debruyne, who taught the first module, has nothing but praise as well. “What makes the iPad especially interesting is that you can add teaching materials on the spot. For example, when I get an ad hoc question and I refer to an interesting article that comes to mind, all of the participants have the article on their iPad within about 30 seconds. It’s definitely an added-value for teaching dynamics. Participants were even improving my PPT slides by adding information during the class.” Marion also uses her iPad as an alternative flip chart when presenting a case. “While I wrote on my iPad with the special pen, the summary was projected immediately in class and distributed amongst the participants. Now the content is not only shareable, but I can also face them instead of explaining with my back to them. This makes it so much more agreeable for everyone and allows face-to-face interaction.

Showpad is the 2nd company co-founded by Vlerick Masters in General Management alumnus, Louis Jonckheere, who previously co-founded the mobile agency In The Pocket. The Showpad team has had the honour of presenting their solution at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, and they have some of the world’s leading brands as customers. They are currently in the process of opening a New York office. Check their website for more information: www.showpad.com  

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