Monday, June 29, 2009

The online MBA

The online MBA. Yawn. Can’t be done. No value. Wait a minute. How would you like it if you could say you are a MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute ? Sitting up ? What if it was 20% of the cost of a regular MBA. And what if you don’t have to leave your job for 2 years to do this. Interested ? Read on.

Jack Welch is taking a 12% stake in a company called Chancellor University System LLC, whose leading investor is Michael Clifford an evangelist for online education. His lending of his name to the MBA program will immediately catapult it to star status. But will it work ?

There is no doubt that technology has the capability to transform education. Firstly the pros. It is cheaper and you don’t have to give up your job. You can do it from anywhere in the world. The monster that is the US visa officer can be kissed goodbye. Many more people can do it. The limitation of the classroom size largely goes away.

But there are serious doubts, of course. Can the academic rigour be maintained ? What about case discussions, which are so important in a MBA program ? Personal interaction, networks, etc are a key part of learning. Can this be replicated online ? How about the experience of living and studying together ?

While these are very valid concerns, the issues are not insurmountable. Don’t we build strong networks and friendships online through social networks ? I haven’t physically met most of the people who comment on my blog and yet I am intimately connected with them. An online classroom, which closely mimics the actual classroom is now a reality. Take the example of investor presentations, which are almost exclusively on line these days – they are extremely and intensely interactive. And the youth of today are much more adept at interacting and sharing online.

Methinks online education will be a significant part of the learning systems of the world. It won't replace the traditional university for sure, but it will be a very real choice for people.

There’s something in this. Jack Welch says he first thought this was a daft idea, but is now a convert, thanks to Michael Clifford’s evangelism. And we all know, Jack Welch doesn’t make moves lightly.

What say you ? Wanna enroll for the Jack Welch MBA ?