Online MBA: Taking the steps forward to meet students’ needs

  • November 7, 2022
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

We are entering a new era in education. Learners of all ages have experienced a significant life change over these past few years, and their expectations for a traditional university environment have been blown apart.

As such, it is more important than ever for MBA programs to be able to evolve. The pandemic has changed the way we all work, the way careers look and the ways in which businesses operate. For students to be prepared to enter the new world of work, all levels of schooling will need to drastically adjust the online learning environments and resources that are being created.

Dynamism has always been a vital part of an MBA program, whether online or on campus, but people are increasingly realizing the power and potential of a great online MBA experience. By including many types of support and with faculty collaborating to produce comprehensive materials, digital technology can power an even more personal and engaging learning experience for students.

How is an online MBA program meeting students where they’re at?

Accredited online MBA programs are best suited to serve students in this unique time due to the very platform they’re based on—fully virtual classrooms. Online programs are more suitable for a wider variety of students by offering the same fundamentals, learning modules, teaching quality and admissions standards while still being flexible. This ensures that people with different scheduling, financial and accessibility needs have access to higher education.

One wonderful thing about a more flexible program is the range of students it attracts. The online MBA draws a diverse population of students—different backgrounds, languages, industry experiences, religions, etc.—and the program becomes richer because of this diversity. It also means that great instructors are drawn to the program, too.

At Olin, our online MBA has a support network that acts like a scaffold, providing a firm foundation so all learners and instructors can progress through the program together. Instructional designers work with production specialists to create great, supportive materials. The digital publishing team follows that up with digital textbooks that evolve to meet how students are actually learning. Then, eLearning Support Assistants are there to help students in real-time as they navigate their education experience.

Additionally, our courses are produced and accessible through our Center for Digital Education and our proprietary learning platform, learn.WashU. The Center for Digital Education provides staff support through dedicated studio facilities that can record large quantities of high-quality digital materials. The learn.WashU platform gives students a reliable and engaging virtual environment, like a digital campus. Platform resources are individualized for students to offer personal guidance, while access to data means feedback and adjustments can happen immediately.

How is the online MBA evolving to meet student needs?

As the future of business leadership shifts and reforms, an online MBA program is only as good as its ability to evolve. Here’s what we’re doing at Olin to ensure we continue to be the best place for students to develop MBA leadership skills:

Using feedback to grow

Students’ needs and expectations are in flux, so it’s important that providers are constantly listening to students’ thoughts and concerns. We have multiple evaluation mechanisms so that, even within a term, we can make adjustments to the way we teach, organize and communicate. We use qualitative feedback to help us make a learning experience that evolves through data-driven feedback.

Preparing students for a hybrid world

The world of work demands a lot from today’s graduates, and at the forefront of Olin’s mission is to prepare students to enter this world. How to apply for digital-first jobs and succeed. How to communicate the potential of digitalization to employers. How to help others to innovate their processes. These are the MBA leadership skills that we’re nurturing in our students so that they can become the future of business leadership.

Drilling down into MBA fundamentals

Our focus on digital experiences and learning does not mean we’re forgetting about the foundations of MBA skills development. The core principles of MBA learning form the structure of our program, but at the same time, we live and breathe a digital approach so that all of our courses and conversations are colored by the needs of the data-driven business landscape that surrounds us—including AI, cloud infrastructure, and the challenges of remote and hybrid operations.

By focusing our program on dynamic online learning, we deliberately and actively prepare MBA students for a business world that is changing all the time. By offering a safe but ambitious digital-first environment, we show our cohorts that anything is possible in this new world.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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