21st century classrooms: How to convert cellphones into teachers' allies: New technology has made the teacher-student relationship more horizontal.

Author:Tegel, Simeon

With its economy booming like few others in Latin America since the turn of the millennium, Peru has a steadily growing demand for executive talent. That has left the country's business schools with the challenge of how best to educate millennials.

New technology over the last 20 years has radically changed higher education in all kinds of unlikely ways. It has also, arguably, even changed the way we think.

It began, of course, in the 1990s with the advent of laptop computers. But that process has become turbocharged in the last few years, ever since Apple brought out its first iPhone in 2007. That is particularly true for those studying for business and executive graduate degrees, presenting challenges and opportunities for students and, especially, for their professors.

"They are digital natives. They are totally familiar with digital 4 content and the skills to use it," says Guillermo Quiroga, head of graduate education at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas. "They don't ask professors questions as much anymore. Instead, they go to Google. That means professors must be extremely accurate with their own data, which students can often easily find online.

"But even more than that, it means that professors have increasingly become curators of information. They have to help students find the best information and to be discerning about sources. There are all kinds of opinions and analyses out there, but they are not all equally valid. Knowing how to evaluate them is such a core skill these days."

Classes also have to be faster paced and more interactive. Professors now regularly engage students in problem-solving and real-life case studies. Meanwhile, so-called soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication and networking are more important than ever.

"If you're not a good team player, you're finished," says Ana Reategui, head of business development programs at Lima's branch of ESAN, one of Latin America's leading graduate schools of business, set up in 1963 in partnership with Stanford University in the United States. "That is where you realize if someone doesn't know how to listen, is unreasonably stubborn, or is not able to defend their own ideas."

That means that students routinely now use their cell phones in lectures, with professors actively inviting them to search for data or to game case studies. "At first, teachers were tempted to tell students to put their phones away," adds...

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