GIBS has a strong history of innovation when it comes to business education. Keeping up this tradition, Katie Kilpatrick, associate director: production and content development, together with the digital team, have created a unique set of online Masterclasses that are poised to open GIBS up to a whole new market of online learners.

Kilpatrick chatted to Acumen about what inspired this move and what makes these courses so significant in a digitally evolving world.

New roads for learning

Although the online Masterclass initiative was spurred on by the Covid-19 lockdowns, Kilpatrick says that the incorporation of digital learning has always been part of GIBS’ strategy. Although GIBS has no intention to stop its face-to-face classroom offering, these digital classes offer another avenue of learning for GIBS students. “There is an audience out there that wants to be able to learn in their own time and at their own pace, in their own environment,” she says. These short, accessible courses cater to this need.

Over the last year, Kilpatrick and her team have created an initial 10 Masterclass courses covering everything from business writing to e-commerce and digital transformation strategies. Kilpatrick describes the courses as bite-sized learning, where students can download the course material and then have three months to complete the programme, whenever they want and wherever they are. Each course requires between five and eight hours to complete.

Natural evolution

Masterclasses have always formed part of the fabric of the GIBS offering. Kilpatrick explains that between 10 and 15 Masterclasses have been run per year. Although these were typically full-day events, where an expert in the subject would offer students a thorough understanding of the topic during a day on campus.

Now, as the demands on people’s lives have changed and priorities have shifted, these digital courses have turned out to be the perfect solution for those who need to fit learning into their busy schedules or for those who simply enjoy learning on their own. However, the digital team’s challenge was to keep the courses just as educational and engaging as classroom learning.

Kilpatrick believes these courses cater to a variety of students. They are ideal for individuals looking to enhance their CV through developing specific knowledge and skills. They are a great tool for organisations wanting to develop their employees in a particular subject area or to present new options for career development. The courses can also provide a “taster” for people who want to get an idea of what a subject may entail before enrolling for a more substantial GIBS programme.

A world-class solution

In keeping with the original Masterclass format, Kilpatrick enlisted GIBS’ faculty and recognised subject matter experts across multiple industries to offer the online courses. In addition to top talent, Kilpatrick also needed to ensure that the courses were further enhanced by including additional informative content.

“The Masterclasses are put together in such a way that the course is both interesting and visually appealing,” explains Kilpatrick, who sought content from other platforms offered by GIBS, including articles, case studies and videos. “We use footage from forums, or if we have Acumen articles that complement the course, we add those in as additional content or additional viewings.” This content, she says, gives a richer learning experience. Kilpatrick hastens to add that she has also included lists of additional reading material for students who want to delve further into their chosen topic.

In addition, each Masterclass comes with its own workplan, outlining exactly what will be covered in the course and giving students the option of revisiting sections at will. To ensure that students are getting a solid grounding in the topic, each section is concluded with a series of questions – and answers. On concluding the course, students are required to complete a multiple-choice questionnaire that will see them awarded a certificate of completion if they pass.

Kilpatrick’s long-term vision is to turn this programme into an online certificate course for students who are unable to study at GIBS in person, but who still want to complete a GIBS course. But that is an ambition for the future. Right now, she is focused on building up the online Masterclass portfolio. 

“The rapidly growing portfolio of Masterclasses is a welcome addition to GIBS' expanding online bouquet," says Howard Fox, managing executive: commercial. 

The GIBS Masterclass courses

The GIBS online Masterclass series is a world-class digital offering for students looking to grow their knowledge at a time and pace that suits them. There are currently 10 courses to choose from, each facilitated by an industry expert.

The courses are jam-packed with the most up-to-date and relevant content and should take between five and eight hours to complete. Each course costs R3,700.

 1.       Business Writing Masterclass

Good business writing can make or break your career. This course will help you develop your writing skills for business. Video link

 2.       E-commerce Masterclass

This class will give you a thorough understanding of the digital economy and tips on how to run a successful e-commerce business. Video link

 3.       Ethical Fitness Masterclass

The Ethical Fitness Masterclass seeks to give leaders creative ideas to achieve and implement ethical excellence within their organisations. Video link

 4.       Strategic Thinking Skills Utilising Behavioural Science and Neurostrategy

Excellent businesses are built on excellent strategies. This Masterclass will build your understanding of how to improve the quality of strategic thinking. Video link

 5.       Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)

This course will help you to transform data into actionable business insights that can be used to improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency. Video link

 6.       Essential Skills for Media and Communication in the Modern World

This Masterclass will guide you on putting your best foot forward should you be called upon to talk to the media, be it television, radio or print, with an emphasis on crisis management. Video link

 7.       Design Thinking to Re-imagine Your Business Beyond Covid-19

Learn how to adapt your business with this Masterclass, which shares valuable insights from companies that have successfully pivoted their business models. Video link

 8.       Digital Transformation Strategy for Business Leaders

This Masterclass is designed to give business leaders the tools to adapt and thrive in this world of unprecedented digital disruption. Video link

 9.       Predictive Analytics Masterclass

In this course, you will learn that although data can help you understand the past, its real value lies in more accurately predicting what may happen in the future. Video link

 10.   Economics for Non-Economists

This Masterclass will give you a solid understanding of why economies work or fail, and the key terms and terminology used by economists. Video link

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