We interview Professor Raymond Hackney on the latest addition to the Brunel Business School portfolio of innovative postgraduate courses in Business and Management: the MSc Business Intelligence & Social Media. The programme will commence in September 2013 with an additional intake in January 2014.
Could you tell us who is this programme for?
The programme intends to cater for the needs of students who desire a multi-disciplinary education in business use of new social media, business intelligence, and mobile and cloud services. The course will encourage the study of organizations, their management and the changing external environment in which they operate; and complement these managerial concerns with practical skills in new web technologies. The central ethos is to help students prepare for a career in business and management from an operational to managerial level within and beyond the IT sector by gaining technical skills, and an appreciation of the crucial role that new social web technologies play in today’s organizations and their ability to transform business processes.
What is the objective of this programme?
The business climate is changing fast due to the emergence of new ‘disruptive technologies’ and there is a wide spread expectation that new jobs will be created as a direct consequence in the technology business sector; but it is also widely perceived that there is a worldwide shortage of qualified managers with the skills to capitalize on the expected opportunities, particularly in the emerging economies. This course is designed to prepare candidates with the skills and knowledge they will need to work with these ‘disruptive’ technologies in the business world.
The programme is intended to support students in developing knowledge and competency in social media and related business skills and is aimed at candidates with a business and management background who have a desire to get exposure to the new information technologies that enable much of modern communications and business operations. Accordingly, there is an emphasis on subjects that relate strongly to the commercial world, especially business on the web. The course aims to help students understand the importance of information and mass communications technologies to the operations of modern businesses of all kinds. Students will be encouraged to reflect on the relevance of
concepts to business and also to apply their newly developed skills in advanced studies or professional practice. It is intended that successful graduates of the course will progress to leadership and decision making roles in industrial organisations or develop successful consultancy and advisory businesses of their own. Practitioners seeking a more commercially relevant and technology oriented Master’s qualification in the area of new business technologies rather than an MBA will also find the course of interest.
What type of assessment can students expect?
Assessment is through a variety of assignments and exams all specific to applied learning and culminating in a dissertation which involves empirical research into organisations.
Modules typically combine weekly lectures and group student-led seminars and case study groups, whilst some provide workshops and/or a tutorial component. Large class sizes in core modules require modern, audio-visual teaching aids and electronic delivery of teaching materials. Where feasible, new-media will be incorporated into the course on a module-by-module bases, e.g. for group online discussions, twitter contact with tutors, maintenance of social networks for group working and at class level communications. The on-line learning resources give access to lecture guides, notes/slides, cases and other resources. Thus, students learn quickly how to access on-line materials provided and how to make the best use of databases and search engines. Some modules require teamwork including group assignments and group presentations where teamwork skills are refined. Students will be expected to utilise social-network applications as an integral part of their group communications, as well as to communicate with tutors through the use of twitter and through self-maintained professional blogs. Seminars provide group contact with the chance to review, discuss and debate topics. They could require students to make presentations to the peer group and the tutor, individually or as part of a team using PCs, digital projectors, and online with the aid of new-media (such as multi-media mashups).
On some modules, such as Social Media, use of new-media technologies is an explicit part of the assessment strategy and therefore students must demonstrate skills and competencies with use of appropriate technologies. In other modules, such as Professional Project in BI and SM, teaching will make use of new-media and students are required to participate through the new-media too. Levels of engagement and participation will be monitored on an on-going basis through built in analytics capabilities of new-media tools, as well as through tutor formative and summative assessments. In all new modules, there is both a summative and a formative element in which group activities must be mediated through the use of new-media, and skills so developed by students will be an integral part of the feedback from tutors. Where summative assessment is conducted, tutors will monitor and evaluate student engagement and with one another through new-media, and assess individual student performance accordingly. Formative assessment of group activities will be less evaluative and more developmental by encouraging greater participation and helping students develop more productive engagement strategies.
Many modules have a teamwork requirement including group assignments assessed via reports. Opportunities for formative assessment will be integrated in to the teaching scheme on a module-by-module basis as appropriate; though all new modules developed for this course include a formative element in which a group activity is completed early in the course to enable students to receive constructive advice on how to improve their performance for the main credited assessment. In addition, most notably within the Dissertation module, there are several check points for student progress of a compulsory but formative nature.
And finally, what support do students receive in this programme from academics? In what form?
The University has many opportunities for students to pursue extra-curricular activities that will enhance their experience on the course but also provide valuable personal development in line with employability demands.
The Academic Skills Service (ASK) is located within the Library, and runs an online learning resource for Personal Development Planning (PDP). This Library webbase outlines a structured approach to the PDP process with suggested planning and reflection activities for each stage of study at Brunel, such as the use of self-awareness questionnaires, reflective exercises and frameworks to identify strengths and weaknesses. Working with supervisors on the dissertation is viewed by students as particularly insightful and useful to their personal development.
The Business School’s Business Life initiative (http://www.brunel.ac.uk/bbs/employability) is a unique Employability Programme designed to maximise students’ employability by providing an intensive programme of professional workshops and events that run in parallel with academic studies. Students registered on the MSc in Business Intelligence and Social Media will be encouraged to participate in the Business Life activities. As part of the Business Life Employability Programme students are able to participate in events and training that help them obtain job-ready skills and gain recognised certificates and valuable examples of their work which provide Brunel Business School students with real employability advantage. The initiative provides the following support: High quality personal, technology, language and business skill training courses and workshops, Career development and planning services, including mentoring, industry taster sessions and guest speaker series, Sector leading work experience programme covering placements, volunteering, internships and vacation work, Help with marketing personal capabilities, through networking events, CV development, employer exhibitions and student showcases, Lifelong continuous professional development, including short courses.