Outlook Money interviewed me for a feature on on-line MBA in one of their forthcoming issues. Here are my answers to their questions that may become part of the feature coverage.
Question 1 – Online MBAs cost less money and are more convenient. How do they differ from a conventional MBA in terms of boosting one’s career prospects?
- An MBA is all about experiential learning. In a good regular program the class has diverse learners. (My batch at IIMB 17 years ago had somewhat following profile –
- Age 21 – 45+
- Various streams – linguists to scientists, to police commissioners, CA, ICWA, Doctors – I have experienced all of them over the years
- From a variety of industries – as widely as you can imagine – IT and biotech companies on one end to governmental departments on the other..
- In MBA has to do with how you run an organization in an entrepreneurial manner – including government and even panchayats (Chavvi Rajawat, an MBA is a sarpanch in Rajasthan). So the learning happens through intense sharing and gaining from not only the curriculum and pedagogy but also with fellow learners.
- In a purely On-line MBA, all the above elements that form the core of learning process is completely opaque. Hence the learning during an on-line MBA program depends greatly on the learner’s initiative of how he or she will practically implement in the working environment.
- So the boost to the career is going to be completely dependent on the learners eagerness to learn, relating to his contextual existence and application of it. Indirectly performance of the individual will get rewarded in the organizations they work in.
Question 2: How does one select which online MBA courses to go for? Are courses offered by reputed institutes, who have campus MBA programs necessarily good?
- Online MBA programs are basically for continuous professional education to enhance ones perspective and possibly ones prospects.
- In the US it has been in existence for almost two decades now, but mostly subscribed to by people who are working and cannot afford time to go for a regular program.
- There are a few variants in online MBA programs that are blended. It means a few hours of contact classes. This varies from a few hours every week to a couple of days in a term. So blended programs do work better than purely online program for it facilitates face-to-face interaction with the fellow learners that enables greater learning.
- A few of the on-line programs will not only have canned sessions for access anywhere and any time, but also have virtual sessions or webinars that try to simulate the interactive learning environment with learners participating from across the world. Such a thing will have the advantage of cross-boundary learning. Still the human beings are missed.
- Hence, if you really want to get the maximum out of the program, look for programs that offer a good blend of on-line as well as off-line in-class interactions
Question 3. Do online MBA’s provide placement facilities?
- As I shared already, On-line MBA programs are for practicing professionals; for learning and enhancing skills, and not necessarily for placements;
- The learning may add value depending on the investment of time and effort of the learner. Hence the rewards and remunerations are a function of the efforts of the learner.
- Yes, in the same organizations they may gain enormously if they apply their learning and show results; and later the switch in jobs may happen. So, indirectly better placements.
- Though the industry has a lot of opportunities, one who really invests in learning and applies well, gets well placed even in a regular MBA program, not to talk of an on-line MBA program
Question 4. What are the things one needs to keep in mind before going for an online MBA? How does one figure out whether the investment he is making is worth it and will make him get a higher paying job or enhance his career prospects? Who should, according to you, go for an online MBA course?
- The first requirement is – what is the drive one has to run for himself or herself without the push from outside. The person has to be highly motivated and self-driven
- In the current context, it is for working executives, who wish to enhance their skills and continue upgrading their knowledge; One may even pursue programs that are very specific to their domain.
- Look for programs that have a good blend of on-line and classroom. That at least allows a fair amount of interaction with fellow learners.
- An MBA is also about networking with like-minded people. Opportunities throw up when greater interactions happen in the learning spaces. So the blended versions help.
- Look at the track record of the programs. Seek greater inputs from the institution. Better to ask from the institution for references of people who are already doing the program or alum and seek their inputs