THE DILEMMA OF SUSTAINING THE PRESTIGE OF ONLINE MBAs.

Author:Graglia, Diego
Position:EXECUTIVE EDUCATION
 
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Patrick Mullane graduated from Harvard with an MBA in 1999 and says that every executive job he has had ever since landed through the network of graduates from the university.

"It was a transformative experience for me," Mullane told Latin Trade.

Today, aspiring business leaders have the option of taking executive courses from the prestigious Harvard School of Business through the internet. But Mullane says he would not trade his traditional, onsite MBA for an online degree for anything. "I still would have gone in person," he said emphatically.

His opinion wouldn't be unusual except for one detail: Mullane is the executive director of HBX, Harvard's executive online program, which offers basic courses in finance, business, management, and innovation in short programs lasting eight to 18 weeks.

Mullane recognized in an interview that this program has not yet finished defining its business model, and as a result HBX is still a complement to and not a replacement for business education as we know it.

And although online executive education has had its ups and downs over the last few years, the major business schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) all have internet programs of various lengths for executives, usually shorter versions of their traditional MBAs.

REPLICATING THE QUALITY OF CLASSROOM LEARNING ONLINE

The big challenge for executive education on; line is that when the courses have massive attendance, they cannot replicate the quality of the personal experience of attending a class in person and interacting with the professors and with executives from other countries and other cultures,

In response, the Stanford Business School launched an initiative that tries to avoid being a MOOC (Massive Online Open Class) and instead offers a one-year program in corporate innovation that accepts only a select group of students. The students collaborate remotely in small groups, interact in the cloud, have personalized access to the professors, and each one studies at his or her own pace. It's a smaller version of the MBA, with a total of eight classes.

"We wanted to create a way to reach out globally to business leaders who don't have the opportunity to be here," said Peter DeMarzo, a professor in the program, during the graduation ceremony for the first generation of students last year.

Columbia University in New York has an Alliance with the ExecOnline digital platform where it offers...

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