Online MBA Experience
What is it like to do Georgia Southern’s MBA online? Online programs vary a great deal in the “classroom experience” depending upon the learning management system used and the skill/experience of the professors with online learning. Recently, a prospective student asked one of Georgia Southern’s instructors about the experience. The student was also considering a program delivered by video lecture. The exchange was very insightful:
Our courses are offered asynchronously so there is not a camera in which the instructor is viewed teaching while students are viewed learning like there would be in an synchronous distance learning setting. How the course materials are presented will vary by professor. Some use videos, some use audio files, some use Powerpoint and/or other types of materials.
In my WMBA 6050 course, I use PowerPoints with the notes function for the basic text chapters (so students can print the file and read what I would say if I was presenting the materials in a traditional class), narrated PowerPoints for materials not covered well in the text, and audio clips to introduce each module of material. I also supplement with research articles in the literature that highlight topics introduced in the text (such as when discussing advertising, I include an event study I did on the financial impact of Super Bowl advertising on stock prices). In my course, there is an emphasis on interactive discussion with groups presenting articles (via PowerPoint notes that can be narrated) that elaborate on topics from the text and leading discussions for all in the class to participate.
In terms of viewing the collaborative materials, they are created with the intention of being easy to access. We have students in our program from all over the world and who travel internationally. I create my course with the traveling business student in mind (i.e. could he/she access and utilize my materials while sitting in an airport). While many of our students are from the south, the diversity of the students is why asynchronous delivery is so critical. I have had students take my course while serving in the military, working for the airlines, traveling extensively to Russia, or living in Saudi Arabia, Japan, or Africa while going through the program; thus accessibility to the materials is key.
Class materials are developed for use on our learning management system, Desire2Learn, which is a learning platform that many universities throughout the country are also utilizing.
For the students, some of the course requirements are done an individual basis (such as exams), while others are done on a group basis. As part of the Orientation, students develop groups that they work with throughout the program. These groups typically meet on a weekly basis and how the students organize their meetings tends to vary by group. In the online MBA program, we have utilized WIMBA for group meetings (which is sort of like the academic version of go-to-meeting), while some groups prefer Skype, or some other meeting platform that they use in their work setting. I have worked with groups and have had synchronous meetings with them via WIMBA, Skype, conference call, go-to-meeting, etc . . .. Due to students’ work responsibilities and time zone differences, I have worked with students on evenings and weekends in the meeting format of their choice (though I do set up a WIMBA room for each group at the start of the term).
The focus of the program is to have students interacting with the material, with their classmates, and with their professors in a variety of ways to offer a high tech with a high touch experience that is relevant for working business managers.