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The MIT Sloan Experience During COVID-19

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As business school campuses remain closed due to COVID-19, professors and students have moved their classroom sessions online.  At MIT Sloan, course curriculum is also shifting a bit in response to the pandemic.  In this glimpse into MBA student life, David Urness, MIT Sloan MBA ’21, shares how faculty and guest speakers are modifying business lessons, how students are staying connected outside of classwork and more.

David Urness, MIT Sloan MBA ’21

How is the online classroom experience going at your school? What’s different about it?
MIT’s online classroom experience has well surpassed my expectations: the quality of the teaching, access to professors in and out of the class, and level of discussion between students has remained extremely high in a virtual environment. It is clear that our faculty has put in an extraordinary amount of effort into not only adapting to an online format, but investing in new content to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in real-time. My Global Economic Challenges & Opportunities class (already highly reviewed for its incredible Professor Kristin Forbes) has pivoted part of every class to the monetary and fiscal policies being rolled out in response to COVID-19. Our guest speakers from the Fed and other institutions have shared their perspectives on the crisis in real-time. Similarly, my Taxes & Business Strategy class debated Congress’ coronavirus stimulus package over two days and my Supply Chain class is focusing on how to design resilient supply chains for these types of crises. MIT has also rolled out a new for-credit class focused exclusively on current research done at the institute on COVID-19, which has been incredibly interesting and something that could only be offered at MIT.

What is the technology platform your school is using to deliver classes online? Does it vary from class to class?
All Sloan classes are over Zoom, which has performed extremely well as a platform. Some of the MIT-wide graduate classes have used different platforms, but this is a fraction of classes (if any) of the classes taken by MBAs.

How are you maintaining relationships with your classmates, professors, and other b-school community members during this time period?

David’s workspace – MIT Sloan, like all business schools, has moved learning online.

Our community is working hard to stay connected at Sloan, both organically and with support from our administration. From Zoom cooking nights to virtual board games and whiskey tasting, we see our classmates frequently, albeit virtually. Personally, I am helping organize a virtual Yarn – a monthly Sloan event where students share personal stories with their peers.

Our professors have done a tremendous job keeping Zoom online for 10-15 minutes after class for informal questions / discussion and are readily available for 1:1 interactions. Our clubs are still meeting online and hosting events virtually as well.

If you are active in any clubs, how has their work continued?
I am an MBA senator and Sloan Energy Club co-president. All of our clubs have been impacted significantly by COVID-19, but we are adapting quickly to keep our members connected and supported.

Our senate has spearheaded the student response to COVID-19, partnering with the administration to answer the questions and concerns of our students (e.g., fireside chats with our dean, an idea bank for ways Sloan can help students) and helping make the transition to virtual classes as effective as possible.

While much of the Energy Club’s in-person programming was cancelled, our members helped move the MIT Energy Conference to an online format successfully, virtual group socials are being organized, and efforts are being made to continue to support those still recruiting.

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Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.