Pavel Polyakov


Diploma in Strategy and Innovation


United Kingdom





By Pavel Polyakov

Online Experience: Oxford Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation

At the present time, we still have challenges related to COVID and the limitations which it creates for schools. I have just started to study the Strategy and Innovation diploma programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. I want to emphasise below how fast and professional Oxford Saïd adapted the approach of their live sessions to a new ‘e-reality’. Some examples of this include keeping a high engagement level and a professionally moderated process, arranging interaction in a group and the interactive nature of some activities. Despite all of the changes due to current limitations, all opportunities are still in place, including networking growth and collaboration with peers and professors.

The first module was dedicated to Strategy. We had 25 students at our ‘Zoom’ meeting. Thanks to Professor Teppo Felin, the engagement level was high. He focused a lot on discussions around different case studies, which took place within the small online groups/rooms of up to 4 people, and analysis by using the frameworks which each student received from the pre-reading material before the module. With a face-to-face programme, students would normally have the opportunity to spend some time together having informal discussions during breaks. We had similar opportunities within the online session to interact with each other during the break using the separate online rooms as the environment for discussion. The Professor moderated the process flow to a very good level, naturally. Each student had an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas by using the simple function which is ‘raise hand’. I was initially concerned about the interactivity within virtual meetings. In fact, the Professor experimented with a few games to highlight the aspects of taking decisions and the importance of speaking the same language as your colleague. Usually, in-person sessions would happen with access to flipcharts. Our group used jamboard, a virtual flipchart/whiteboard software with simultaneous access to it for the whole group or for the groups in the individual rooms.

I have listed a few new features of remote learning. At the same time, all the benefits and important elements of executive education are still in place, including the opportunity to expand networking. Online sessions still allow this to a good standard. The Oxford alumni platform also helps each student expand their network as well. I can say that the general topic was fully explained and the discussions were quite insightful. This was due to the diversification of our group in terms of the industrial experience, background and culture which each student represents. I received tools and frameworks to analyse existing strategy and define potential strategic moves. Each participant has access to the professor and the opportunity to stay in contact and ask questions even after the session. Our group has created a direct fast channel of online communication to interact with each other.

It was not a surprise for me to see the high professional level of online sessions which Oxford Saïd now arranges for all students. All participants are waiting for a meeting in person at Oxford. Hopefully, the local lockdown will be lifted by the start of the next module. But if some limitations still exist, I want to assure everyone that the online process looks professional, easy to follow and each student gets the relevant knowledge of a topic and study experience at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

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