Given our knowledge of the Africa context and because we are starting from scratch, we are not tied down by outdated procedures and overwhelming traditions typical in a traditional University. We have an opportunity to understand the West African context and learn from the best (and bad) practices at other institutions around the world.
This allowed us to develop an innovative, forward-looking learning model we call:Discovery-rich Performance Learning (DPL) Model – an educational approach with an emphasison training through work-integrated practice (doing) and team learning – whereby for each module students work in the field and with teaching companies to discover real business problems and opportunities, and apply their knowledge to solve the problems by developing actionable results and/or create real new business ventures. Key elements of DPL Model include:
- Use of ‘teaching companies’– We offer a practical and project-based education involving a strong intimacy between academics and ‘teaching companies’. All students are mainly trained through taking part in real company projects submitted by our ‘teaching companies’. Teaching companies offer executive mentors for student projects. They provide opportunities for in-house, company-specific programs; serve as case study sites for developing new content for programs and for applied research. Executives in teaching companies write thought-leadership articles for the school’s journal. Teaching companies provide a ‘performance seal’ that attests to the quality of student work, projects and outcomes.
- Teaching by academics and executive teams. For each module and program, we use the right proportion of full-time and part-time lecturers, as well as local-and foreign-based lecturers.Seasoned senior executives and entrepreneurs take active part personally in developing the School’s curriculum, delivering lectures, and organizing practical training.
- Focus on real employment skill gaps identified by employers in Africa. We have examined existing research on the employability skills that the companies and organizations in Africa require from prospective employees at all levels. These desired skills include entrepreneurial leadership (personal drive and initiative), planning, ethics and integrity, critical thinking, practical experience, creativity & innovation (ability to be flexible and deal with complexity and dynamism), global awareness and technology dexterity. NIBS’ work-integrated program design and delivery centres on the providing practical experiential knowledge and skills in the intersection of the components of what we call the TIDEL educational space – technology management, innovation, design thinking, entrepreneurship and leadership.
- Field-based, discovery research – Our focus is to help students develop research, design thinking and innovation skills to develop customer and market insights to uncover and develop solutions for real business and organizational problems.
- MBA and EMBA students will develop entrepreneurial start-up projects to create and run real new business ventures while being mentored by seasoned business executives and entrepreneurs. Project results are assessed by the senior executives in the ‘teaching’ companies and third-party experts (politicians, officials as well as venture capitalists for funding support.
- Our doctoral students will use a discovery rich research approach to develop and publish articles and theses that advance an area of organizational practice and/or academic knowledge.
- Team-based learning – Team-based learning mirrors what goes on today’s progressive workplace. In each program, students will learn the best practices for successful team-building and teamwork, and leave the program well prepared to lead, or to be a valuable member of, a high performance team. Each student will be assigned to a team of up to 5 participants for the duration of the program, and a significant portion of the overall grade for each course and program is derived from teamwork. Team members collaborate on assignments, projects and presentations, drawing on the skills and experience of every team member, engage in competitive obstacle activities greatly enhancing the learning experience. Each team member is given many opportunities to lead projects and contribute to projects led by other team members. One of the greatest benefits of the team-based approach is the opportunity to develop the student’s team and leadership skills. This gives credence to our ‘qualified for the real world’ positioning.