Business students learn soft skills via digital video at Lancaster University Management School.
In a UK first for higher education, Lancaster University Management School is supplementing its teaching capabilities with expert soft skills learning content from Video Arts, to provide core practical skills for students on its business, management and marketing programmes.

The Management School has online access to 10 Video Arts programmes, covering issues such as working in teams, coaching, giving and receiving feedback, running meetings and understanding financial documents. Lecturers will be able to reinforce learning points, and illustrate the practical application of theory, by showing clips from these programmes in their live delivery. Students will also be able to access the full programmes in their own time.

“Our goal is to get our students as prepped and ready for the world of work as we possibly can,” said Dr Peter Lenney, Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Management Education at LUMS. “The reality is it’s not easy to be a good manager. We pride ourselves on our teaching in this area, however we’re always happy to supplement our capabilities with an alternative approach if it will enhance the learning experience. That’s why we contacted Video Arts.”

The Management School’s course leaders will determine which aspects of the Video Arts programmes are most appropriate for their students.

“Streaming the video content online makes it very easy to deliver specific learning to groups of students,” said Dr Lenney. “The Video Arts programmes provide award-winning content that not only crystallises the important learning points but is also engaging and memorable. I first saw a Video Arts film in the 1980s and I’ve never forgotten its impact. It’s great that we can now bring that quality of content to our student population. The skills that students will learn from these programmes are not only essential for corporate life, they’ll also help them now to work more effectively together in teams and on projects.”

The Management School has worked with Video Arts to SCORM-package the digital learning content so that it can be embedded into the University’s virtual learning environment, enabling all usage of the Video Arts programmes to be tracked and monitored.

“We’re now looking to extend the use of the Video Arts programmes, initially to other accounting, finance and economics courses in the Management School,” said Dr Lenney. “We’re also looking to add more programmes from Video Arts and to further extend usage to our alumni and to other departments within the University, such as engineering and medicine, that have a curriculum need for soft skills learning. Everyone who has seen the content so far has been very impressed.”

Martin Addison, CEO of Video Arts, said: “We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with Lancaster University and it’s no surprise that they’re the first to explore the possibilities of offering digital learning to students in higher education, as they have a strong tradition of innovation. So-called soft skills can actually be the hardest skills to master and it’s very refreshing to see a world-ranked management school take the lead in this way.”