Monday, March 7, 2022

Montpellier Business School innovates using Microsoft Certifications

Montpellier Business School (MBS), in Montpellier, France, is engaging with Microsoft Learn for Educators on an innovative project to equip business graduates from its Programme Grande École (PGE) Masters in Management and its Masters of Science (MSc) programs, with the technical understanding that they’ll need to be leaders in the business world of today and tomorrow—a world that’s in the midst of rapid digital transformation. MBS, one of the oldest business schools in France, looks to the future with a visionary plan. It aims to incorporate training for industry-recognized Microsoft Certifications into its graduate curriculum. These certifications can help validate the technical skills of its business-focused students and could give them a competitive edge in the job market.


Integrating Microsoft Certifications into MBS graduate business programs

Recognizing that digital transformation is reshaping the workplace, the faculty at MBS wanted to help ensure that its graduates acquire the technical acumen that industries are seeking. In discussing the programs that MBS is developing with Microsoft Learn for Educators, PGE Director Cédrine Joly observes, “This is a big added value for the résumés of our students when they graduate.” She explains that MBS works within a framework, noting, “We gather all the skills and competencies that our students should have to graduate. Understanding the use of technology and having digital proficiency is completely in line with this framework.”


Moez Bennouri, Director of MSc programs at MBS and a driving force behind the integration of Microsoft Certification into the curriculum, reports that although future business managers might not directly use the tools and technologies, they need to understand the reasons why the tools are being used. MBS started by introducing its students to the concept of low-code and no-code solutions.


Last year, it rolled out the first phase of its courses in conjunction with Microsoft Learn for Educators—enabling students to create low-code Microsoft Power Platform solutions and training them for the Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals certification (Exam PL-900). Joly elaborates, “The objective is for graduates who have taken the certification classes to be able to support the digital transformation of their department in a business or perhaps help their company to become more digitalized.” The faculty at MBS was so committed that it made the low-code course and certification training mandatory for its 1,000 graduate students.


Working with Microsoft Learn for Educators to craft a program

Microsoft Learn for Educators often works with computer science and IT faculty at colleges and universities, since many easily see the alignment with technical skilling. The program, however, supports departments and faculty across a wide range of disciplines in the delivery of cutting-edge technical instruction, so engaging with one of the oldest business schools in France to create an innovative course of study aligned to Microsoft Certifications is an exciting opportunity to envision the future together.


The team from Microsoft helped the educators at MBS decide which certifications to work with in the first phase and how best to integrate later phases of training and materials into its curriculum. Other phases will include the integration of Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals (Exam DP-900), Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals (CRM) (Exam MB-910), and Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals (ERP) (Exam MB-920) into MBS supply chain and big data courses. The aim is to integrate a Microsoft Certification into every MBS specialization course.


Faculty worked closely with Microsoft on the execution details of this large project. Microsoft Learn for Educators supplied many resources (including pedagogical materials, such as teaching guides, assessment guides, and datasheets). It also provided self-paced online learning paths and modules on Microsoft Learn, arranged exams, and provided support for students. Joly recalls, “We received advice on how to help our students understand the benefits of certification. The students aren’t going to be in IT—they are going to be business leaders and managers. They need to understand their role in these evolving technologies because digital transformation is the future.”


Studying for Microsoft Certification and earning academic credit

MBS has two approaches to earning academic credit for studying for Microsoft Certification. The MSc course teaches the technology and prepares students to earn academic credit for taking the actual certification exam. The PGE course embeds training for the certification exam and taking a practice exam in a program that includes working with use cases to understand how to deploy strategies for digital transformation in business settings. Marc-Olivier Sercki, a professor who teaches Microsoft Power Platform certification in the PGE course, adds, “Our graduates will be able to communicate with people at their companies about using the application to solve business problems—for example, to automate manual processes.”


Business students, especially because they are not getting a technical degree, appreciate the validation of their technical skills that a Microsoft Certification demonstrates to a prospective employer. One student, Jean Cloarec, observes, “A certification could cut short a long conversation about proving skills.” Another, Aristide Buirette, agrees, “Certification shows recruiters that you have a wide array of skills and that you are open minded and curious.” Even though taking the certification exam wasn’t required for the PGE course, Joly reports that students in the course “discovered the value of certification, and the majority of them want to earn the certification.”

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