Do companies value distance MBAs?

In the past, the study of a distance MBA was considered a poor substitute for the authentic experience that results from studying a full-time on-site MBA. He has often been accused of providing an educational environment of inferior quality, lacking basic elements such as the opportunity to build a network of contacts and, therefore, is often less valued by companies. Although there is still a great variability in online offers, many of these preconceptions are being questioned, and a new wave of high-quality online learning technologies is redefining the very notion of distance learning. In the same way that we are seeing the transformation of the business world thanks to these technologies, the world of education is also undergoing a radical change.

Nowadays, institutions can globally connect several individuals both in real time and asynchronously through Internet technologies. These techniques entered into a single category known under the title of distance learning, but in reality they constitute a great variety of different models and types of study. Models based solely on self-learning are being phased out and replaced by programs that use a combined style, which usually includes a number of face-to-face encounters and periods of online study. The technology and mode of study allow remote students to enjoy the best elements of full-time on-site MBAs, such as case studies and class discussions.

This provides participants with the opportunity to meet their classmates both in person and online, giving them the opportunity to acquire the social and communication skills that have become essential in all MBA programs. Many programs have approaches similar to their full-time equivalents, and use case studies and group learning as core elements of the experience. The number of interventions and the duration of the programs can vary enormously, so that participants with different obligations can participate and take full advantage of their experience of studying an MBA program. The traditional weekend or biweekly MBA program could now also include substantial periods of online study.

At IE Business School we want to take this further, using a wide variety of technologies so that our Global MBA students around the world can participate in face-to-face video conferencing sessions live with teachers and classmates every week. This allows the full participation of the students in the debates, solve practical cases in their group work, present the results and discuss with the rest of the class each week. During the rest of the week, they study in an asynchronous environment and work in practical cases with teachers and peer group, but also use the numerous online resources to reinforce learning, such as virtual conference rooms, real-time chats and the multimedia cases.

They can enroll in a part-time program and, at the same time, put into practice what they are learning at work. In order to graduate, participants also have to intervene in a series of face-to-face sessions during the program. The learning experience may be different from the full-time program, but the quality is comparable and may even be better. Matty Smith, director of learning and teaching services at Henley Management College, summed this up in the Financial Times: “The learning experience and the level of knowledge is surely greater in the distance learning model because the students, in their Most of them are working, which means that they are studying an MBA and at the same time they are acting as managers, and in this way they are also contributing to their learning experience and to the area of ​​knowledge, their direct experience as well as the experience of others ” .

According to the point of view of the companies, the intensive use of technology and the focus on working in groups with people from different parts of the world gives interesting results. Many corporations prefer people who can work and lead diverse teams. MBA programs with great diversity and distance among their participants, and with an important focus on teamwork and leadership skills, are preparing their students to succeed in the big companies and organizations where they will be working. Indeed, due to the increasing use of technologies, we have observed that there are elements of online programs that are now offered in full-time programs. The capabilities that can be developed through many of these new instruments will be used in all MBA programs.

During our experience, we have seen a large number of professional progressions from our distance learning programs, with participants advancing their careers in large multinationals such as Microsoft; they change their career towards some of the traditional MBA objectives, such as strategy consulting; or create their own companies (with other alumni of these programs or employ other alumni when their companies grow). The development of knowledge and skills is the same in full-time programs and networks of contacts are built in an environment that continues to exist after the end of the program, the virtual world.

Today there are a large number of sophisticated offers in the market, and MBA candidates face many choices of institutions and program models. The Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit offer both classifications and lists focused on the online market. However, a variety of factors remain constant when choosing a school: the school brand and its reputation, accreditations and classifications seem to give good clues to applicants and potential recruiters when assessing the quality of the school. Program. Ultimately, personal preferences about the mode of study, the status of your professional career and your expectations regarding the MBA will direct your choice of program and school, but it is likely that a high-quality distance learning program in A good institution will provide as much value to your personal and professional development as your full-time equivalent.

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