Education for the higher educated
Published on: 6 November 2013
Author:
Function: Dean
Organisatie: European Business College Munich, Branch of the European University


The Online MBA

No! It’s not long-distance learning. Although it might be a long distance.” This statement best describes the biggest misunderstanding or rather misconception about online education. Although it being location independent, it is has nothing to do with the eremite, entirely self-study based long distance learning of the analog world of the past.
Online education and especially online MBA programs, deliver a broad and interactive learning experience that can be considered a viable alternative to location based traditional education.

No! It’s not long-distance learning. Although it might be a long distance.” This statement best describes the biggest misunderstanding or rather misconception about online education. Although it being location independent, it is has nothing to do with the eremite, entirely self-study based long distance learning of the analog world of the past.
Online education and especially online MBA programs, deliver a broad and interactive learning experience that can be considered a viable alternative to location based traditional education.


To explain the virtues of online education, it is best to look at the intangible expectations and thus challenges posed to an online MBA. Reputation and networking spring to the mind immediately – will an online MBA have the same value to my employer or my potential employer and will an online MBA give me the access to a network? When examined closely both are rather irrelevant. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Internet Education 66 percent of academic leaders consider online education as good or better than traditional education. Furthermore, chance are great that someone doing an online MBA is working at the same time, thus not only taking the burden of work but also of studying on their shoulders. What better signal of a highly motivated individual is there to the employer or a potential employer? Concerning the networking, well apart from very few exceptional business schools, choosing your B-school based on the possibility of joining a network seems rather outdated. First of all, those people you’re studying with must graduate in order for them to be able to use the network and second of all, what about the existing networks, educational or professional, you have access to? How much are you making use of them? Well, if you are not – it is questionable that the MBA network will make the difference.


Now that we have ruled out this dilemma, it is best to take a short look at how an online MBA is structured. There are basically two types of programs being offered:

 

  • All Online Programs
    These make all the course content available online, which means that students never have to attend classes on a physical campus.

 

  • Combination Programs
    These are a mixture of distance learning coupled with classroom learning. Various courses can be completed entirely online, while other courses must be taken in a campusbased classroom.

 


What about the pros and cons of an online degree?


Pros
Online MBAs are normally cheaper, but these too can range from as little as $3,000 per annum to as much as $30,000, or even more in some cases. Looking on the bright side, scholarships, low-interest student loans, or even financial aid from employers are readily available.
Flexibility is also another great advantage, especially for students who are currently employed. The student can study at any time from any location and don’t have to quit their jobs or spend precious hours commuting or sitting in classrooms.

Lectures can be accessed 24/7, which means that very little time is wasted waiting for professors or traveling through rush-hour traffic. Most institutions offer a form of electronic mentoring program, which makes it easy to communicate with lecturers and administration staff should problems or questions arise.


Cons
Even though there are still some employers who prefer candidates with campus-based degrees, this number is definitely on the decrease. On the other hand, the reputation of providers and value perception of online MBAs is certainly on the increase.
It goes without saying that the online student must possess a high level of self-discipline. After working for ten hours, the student comes home, the sun is shining, all their friends are going to the Biergarten to have a good time - and this poor soul must stay indoors and work on the computer. This can be very frustrating at times. There are also the acceptance level of online degrees and the networking possibilities which was covered in the introduction.
Some potential students are put off by the possibility of technical problems arising during online studies. However, these are very rare. If the student invests in quality computing equipment, technical problems rarely occur. In conclusion here are the top ten advantages to completing an online MBA compared to a campus-based one:

 

  1. A lot of online providers offer exactly the same curriculum as their campus-based competitors.
  2. Courses can be taken from any location in the world, even when traveling or on holiday.
  3. Financial support is readily available and on the increase.
  4. The learning pace is regulated by the student. You can learn as slowly or quickly as you like, or even join an accelerated program.
  5. Significant cost saving such as; no travelling, study while you work and lower fees.
  6. Studying online helps you to improve your time management and selfdiscipline skills.
  7. The only things you require are a computer and a good internet connection.
  8. Most online programs allow the students to take open-book exams.
  9. Online classes are generally designed to support multiple learning styles.
  10. You can study in your pajamas.