Bringing in Renowned Speakers to Deepen AKSOB Students’ Learning Experience

Faculty, guest speakers and students weigh in on the importance of classroom interaction on both academic and personal sides.

Jan 13, 2021

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By Chirine El-Mouchantaf

In a bid to promote student engagement through active learning, the Adnan Kassar School of Business (AKSOB) is constantly seizing opportunities to broaden its students’ knowledge and develop their skillset by connecting them with renowned professors from different fields.

Recently, AKSOB students in the Cognitive Analytics course met virtually with three distinguished lecturers to discuss topics related to artificial intelligence, data and computational analytics, machine learning and neuromarketing. Talks included trends in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, the future of AI in the healthcare industry, and unique neuro case studies, among others.

Reflecting on their online experience, faculty, guest speakers and students weigh in on the importance of classroom interaction on both the academic and personal levels.

For Assistant Professor of Neuromarketing and Business Communication Dunia Harajli, practice and theory go hand in hand, make room for innovation, and increase the students’ ability to make sense of what they are learning.

“Having elite practitioners as guest speakers provided the students with an early insight of what to expect in a corporate context,” she said. “Establishing such connections not only upgrades their knowledge within a more practical and holistic framing, but also boosts their self-esteem and develop their multi-perspective thinking.”

Despite the virtual nature of the interaction, all three speakers were pleasantly surprised by the engagement of the students on the topics.

Dr. Mark Esposito described his experience with the class as exhilarating. “It was filled with great moments of exchange with a skillful group of students who have deeply engaged with the conversation on where the reigns of the fourth industrial revolution are taking us and what is ahead,” he said.

For Dr. Hisham Hamadeh, the students appeared to have a good grasp of the materials, a “fine reflection of the solid foundation and background offered by the class,” he said, hoping that LAU would continue to nurture the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit sensed in many of the students, especially on the topics of machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

Looking to the future, Dr. Rafal Ohme stressed the importance of having an on-campus neuro Lab for faculty and students. “I have already assisted with such ambitious projects at universities in China and South Africa. So would Lebanon be the next destination?”

As a member on NMSBA Advisory Board, Dr. Ohme was thrilled that the course is making a true difference. “Dr. Harajli is not only providing a cutting-edge knowledge to her students but also inspiring them to learn more and be passionate about neuroscience,” he said.

Although the highlights of the experience varied for the students, it was certainly rewarding for them all.

“This class has taught concepts that many people are striving to learn; from finding solutions that help in solving current business problems to learning and studying tools that are essential for companies’ success nowadays,” said alumnus Ali Tourba (BS ‘18), who is now considering a PhD in Neuromarketing, “a trendier and evolving market that will be an integral part of our future.”

Exposure and connections are a key benefit said former lecturer at LAU Byblos Michael Michael. “Why do we enroll in MBA programs?” he asked. “Simply to get exposure and meet corporate people. The world is trending toward research practitioners and the guest speakers gave us amazing theory blended with practice.”

Zeinab El Amir described the lectures as enlightening. “Far from being an intimidating environment, the lectures had an engaging, comprehensive feel to them, nothing beyond the reach,” she said. “The materials were highly relevant to our coursework and had exceptional value as the speakers offered a grounded sense of experience to their proposed concepts.”