Students in the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources discuss what it’s like to pursue a master’s during a pandemic—and in a totally remote world. We look into how IE’s Liquid Learning model has made their education more flexible and dynamic.
Telecommuting is here to stay. But little is said with the same enthusiasm for the changes that educational institutions and students had to make in a hurry to move the teaching and learning experience to the virtual world.
This year, IE University launched Liquid Learning, a model by which students worldwide could connect to classes online OR attend in person and still have the same immersive experience and academic excellence. The university understood that flexible work has its benefits and that it’s here for the long run, even in a post-pandemic world.
Their hybrid model of taking classes online, offline, synchronous, asynchronous, in Madrid, or anywhere else in the world provides accessibility and flexibility to the current student body.
Dynamic learning for a dynamic world
As a new student in the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources, I had the opportunity to experience this model first hand. My circumstances were that I started the program online, back home, until I arrived in Madrid in mid-October and could join the in-person classroom.
Initially, the experience was challenging, mainly because of the time difference. Some classes that started early in Madrid (8 am) were much earlier for me (2 am). However, I knew it was temporary, so I pushed through the first week.
After I was in Madrid, I felt a sense of relief. Not just because of the time difference, but because of having the opportunity to be in person, which is my preferred way to learn. Madrid’s experience was not always in the classroom; sometimes, we could connect online, depending on our instructor’s location.
Whether in person or online, what solidified the experience for me was the different class learning formats. There wasn’t class every day—sometimes it was online forums, other times interactive simulations, interviews, or peer-to-peer video challenges. This helped to bring a sense of dynamism to the online learning sphere, which is very rare. It made me feel better that it was so dynamic because I didn’t feel like I was losing out on the full experience.
Some of my classmates spent the whole term attending class virtually. I interviewed three of my classmates, Neha Pagaria, Diana Quimi, and Jeff Thomson, who are all from different places and circumstances, about their Liquid Learning experience.
Talent development meets Liquid Learning
Neha Pagaria spent the semester in Madrid but opted for virtual-only attendance, which is perfectly acceptable under the Liquid Learning model. For Neha, although she states that the overall experience was good, “I missed the classroom environment, but it was a new learning experience. The Zoom platform made it easy to connect with classmates, making it comfortable to interact with each other and the professor.”
Needless to say, many students connected from the other side of the world with different time zones to attend class, like Diana and Jeff.
Diana connected every day from Ecuador. ‘My experience with this first term has been engaging, demanding, and very rewarding. The system helped me with self-discipline and focus.’ She also states that she felt close to her teammates despite being on another continent and having never met them previously. ‘The opportunity to share and learn with them every day was priceless.’
For Jeff, the time difference was the biggest challenge.
He comments, “Most of my classes either began at 6 am or 11 pm, and ran through the early hours of the morning.»
However, it wasn’t just the university that was embracing the opportunities of Liquid Learning. The students did as well. “My workgroup was amazing, as was everyone else I interacted with. They were all very sympathetic and aware of the time zone issue, always offering up meeting times to work with my schedule, which was nine hours different. It was awesome.”
Nonetheless, for Jeff, despite the challenges with timing and the unwelcoming necessity to spend hours sitting in front of a computer—something we are all coming to grips with more and more as the pandemic continues—the opportunities that Liquid Learning provided were priceless.
“When I applied to HST, the pandemic hadn’t started yet. I had it in my mind that I would head to Madrid in the fall, enjoy the nightlife, and travel around Spain. When the pandemic hit and all the uncertainty around it, Liquid Learning allowed me to put that all aside and know that whether there or here at home, I could continue with the program. And that was a huge comfort. If it weren’t for this master’s, I would have spent the last three months not doing much. So the ability to be a part of this master’s despite the challenges of the pandemic? That was huge. And I’m incredibly grateful.”
A work in progress
Overall, the consensus on the Liquid Learning experience was positive. It was simple to use, engaging, and efficient. It’s hard to translate the learning experience from in-person to online efficiently. So while it’s still a work in progress, IE’s Liquid Learning model works.
To read more about the Liquid Learning model, visit the web page.
Lizbeth Hernandez was born and raised in the small town of Aguadilla in Puerto Rico. She later moved to San Juan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. She was involved in the Society of Human Resources Association (SHRM) and was a collaborator for Her Campus. Former Co-Op of Johnson & Johnson and alum of INROADS. Currently, she is pursuing the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources at HST.