Leaders discuss taking online learning from an alternative to a “must”

It’s a format that provides a competitive advantage

Robert Monroe - CMU, Tepper300By Robert Monroe, Carnegie Mellon University

Over the past three years, we have undertaken an ambitious project to offer our flagship MBA program in an online-hybrid format. One of the key motivations for offering the same MBA we offer onsite in an online format is to provide an academic experience that mimics a global, professional experience.

We believe that MBA students who participate in online formats will likely have a substantial competitive advantage in the global workforce due to the exposure and practice working with and through online technologies. What students learn one day can immediately be applied to their professional career the following day. This real-time application is facilitated by the technology.

Given the amount of collaboration and group work required in online formats across different time zones, students adept with these tools will have a competitive edge in multi-national companies where video conferencing is used daily to connect global teams. Students must familiarize themselves with the blend of technology tools, applications and solutions that are used throughout global business practices.

Our responsibility as academics is to provide students with the skillset and tools they need to lead successful and long-lasting careers. Recognizing the evolution of technologies incorporated into today’s business practices, we must model our curriculum and programs in such a way that reflect what is happening in the workplace. There has been a natural evolution in education technologies–chalkboard, white board, PowerPoint and now online formats–that must advance to meet the needs of the current student and future workforce.

Robert Monroe is the director of the Online Hybrid MBA at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, which has delivered online education to students for the last few decades.

It’s great for preparing tomorrow’s teachers

Candis Shupe300By Candis Harrington Shupe, Western Governors University

Online learning allows us to serve a diverse and nontraditional undergraduate and graduate student body—including adult learners with families and full-time jobs, members of the military stationed overseas, students coming back to college to finish their degree, and students located all across the country.

In our Teachers College specifically, it allows us to provide a robust program ensuring our teacher candidates receive similar experiences as their counterparts attending a brick-and-mortar university. WGU uses video of actual classroom instruction and research-based content, provided by Teachscape, to help reinforce the principles being taught and show the students pin-pointed, pedagogically-sound teaching examples of how those principles can be applied during classroom instruction.

The videos provide an effective alternative for students to complete their required observational hours prior to starting their in-person student teaching. Oftentimes our students’ personal schedules or the policies and accommodations of schools where they can do observations make it difficult for them to schedule and complete the in-classroom observational hours needed. By accessing the robust library offered, students can complete those observations anytime, anywhere.

Course mentors can send specific assignments to the teacher candidates in order to assess different competencies to ensure they are prepared to enter the classroom. This allows our students to focus their time more effectively and efficiently.

As a result of using these online resources as a part of our online program, we’ve found our teacher candidates are extremely engaged in their teacher preparation courses, which has resulted in higher pass and completion rates. Last year, 100 percent of our graduates of teacher licensure programs who took their certification exams passed and were granted licensure. In addition, according to a recent report by Edventures, WGU was the top overall producer of STEM teacher graduates, so we know online teaching and learning not only works, it works extremely well. And experts agree: the National Council on Teacher Quality named our secondary math education program number one in the nation.

Candis Harrington Shupe, M.Ed. is a Learning Resource Manager at Western Governors University, an accredited online university based in Salt Lake City.

(Next page: Content mastery; educator collaboration)