Friday, January 15, 2010

The Online Classroom Experience

Before starting the Kelley Direct Distance MBA program, I was curious about how the online classroom experience would compare to a traditional classroom experience. I was hoping to be able to have a high level of interaction with my professors and fellow students despite the distance MBA school format.

The Kelley Direct program offers a unique way to attend online MBA classes. The instructors utilize software to broadcast the class to the students via the internet. This way, students from all over the world can hear the professor's voice as he or she presents the material, and students can ask questions and provide input either using a microphone or the online chat feature.

What I found is that not only is this format very convenient to my busy schedule, allowing me to attend lectures anytime from anywhere, it also mirrors the way we do business. In my current job, I am always collaborating with employees in remote offices across the country. In fact, I rarely attend a meeting that doesn't have either a conference line or some sort of Adobe Connect/WebEx/Live Meeting component to allow collaboration with remote employees. I'm sure that the trend to use remote communication solutions rather than in-person meetings will continue as corporate budgets tighten and travel costs increase. It's nice to be a part of an MBA program that reflects the way business is done in the technical age.

I have my computer set up with dual monitors. That way I can view the class broadcast on one screen while I follow along with another application (such as Excel) on the other screen. This was particularly effective in my C520 Quantitative Analysis class, which I took fall semester. We used Excel extensively for regression analysis, forecasting, simulation modeling, and linear programming.

One of the great things about the lecture broadcasts is that they are recorded so they can be viewed any time if students are unable to attend the live lecture. I usually go back and review the lecture recordings to make sure I haven’t missed any important concepts.

Here is a screenshot of a broadcast of my C520 class: