Do Online Education and Training Click?
Dean of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University
Even for top business schools, using the Internet to supplement classroom learning is a relatively new endeavor. Fuqua was the first school to enter the Internet space when we launched the Duke MBA-Global Executive in 1996. Now most of the world’s best business schools are moving at full speed to take advantage of this medium’s ability to extend teaching capabilities.
It is “clicking,” indeed.
There are clearly different educational models out there, as evidenced by the highly visible MBA program delivered by Jones University. Fuqua happens to have a point of view that many — but not all — schools share. The educational model we insist on as a core belief here is our “place and space” model. That is, students in three of our four MBA programs learn in a traditional classroom “place” here in Durham, or in similar settings around the world, but we also take advantage of teaching in “space” via the Internet. We will never deliver an MBA program strictly online. It is the combination of the two that delivers a rich and comprehensive MBA.
Teaching in place and space allows us and many of our peers to meet the career and personal goals of students who want to earn an MBA but stay with their companies. We believe the growth in MBA programs will come in such combined programs — not in the traditional daytime programs whose demand will stay fairly flat over the next few years.
E-learning is clicking now, but it must click even better in the future if we are to meet the needs of our students and the companies that sponsor them.
The next frontier involves partnerships between business schools and e-learning companies. We have recently launched a new technology platform as a key ingredient of our new Cross Continent MBA program. We have partnered with Pensare Inc. to do so. Other business schools have relationships with UNext.com, Quisic, and various newcomers.
At Fuqua, we believe more corporate universities will employ distance learning. Corporate universities are one of the fastest-growing segments of the corporate world. Companies are taking learning in-house while trying to outsource many other functions. Why? Because, I think, we as business schools have not done a very good job of partnering with companies to provide learning programs. That fact must change, and it is changing.
Will online learning continue to click? No question about it. We will be better educators because of it.
Rex Adams is the dean of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
He’s reading: On a daily basis … the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the New York Times.
He’s learning: Adams is working on the financing for and growth of Duke Corporate Education Inc., the new, private company spun off from Fuqua in July 2000 to house Fuqua’s customized executive-education operation. Adams and his colleagues expect business to grow substantially as the demand for assistance with corporate education and distance-learning technology continue to grow rapidly. Duke owns 60% of the company, and Adams chairman of the board of directors.