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A New Function for Online Business Education?

Posted By Rodrigo Futema, Thursday, June 12, 2014

 In a recent New York Times article titled, Business School, Disrupted author Jerry Useem documents two opposing views of Harvard’s online business education. One view, led by famous Harvard professor Michael Porter, claims that online education needs to act as a supplement to the already existing Harvard Business education. Conversely, his colleague, Clayton Christensen, urges the need for there to be two separate programs independent of one another. Both present valid arguments and expose possible limitations. However, an implementation of both would be ideal.

Now an immediate reaction may be, “how will an institution afford to construct both initiatives?” According to the 2013 HBS annual report, Harvard Business School reported an endowment of over $2.5 billion, a fund larger than the entire endowment of UNC Chapel Hill. Useem reports that a school needs to only invest $20,000 to $30,000 to establish an online course that can reach a million students. With costs that low, HBS can finance not only Porter’s recommendation of a complementary online program, but a separate online business school independent of HBS itself.

In finance, a fundamental business course at Harvard and in any other management institution, students are repeatedly taught that diversification decreases risk. What better way to lower risk and increase revenues than by diversifying and creating one independent, online program and supplementing a world-class, program with an online component both under the prestigious Harvard University brand? Some business schools are developing their online curriculum to target different consumers altogether. An independent, online Harvard program could easily cater to executives and consumer populations that simply need the diploma. Programs like these emphasize efficiency and speed. However, many aspiring MBAs, and current MBAs value educational programs for the soft skills associated with these elite programs, most notably the extensive network. For students who fall in the categories of young professionals and career-shifting individuals, the brick and mortar HBS would be more appropriate.

However, an institution with an endowment like that of Harvard also has the ability to provide educational opportunities for an extensive, international network of talented individuals who would not normally have an educational opportunity of the Ivy caliber. Here at GBSN, we promote quality business education for the developing world. The future of online business education not only has an optimistic financial outlook, but societal outlook. Perhaps in the future, a top news agency won’t simply report two differing strategies for online business education, but instead highlight how business schools in the US are virtually teaching management classes to a cohort of MBA students in Kigali, Rwanda. Instead of having competing online MBA programs, there would simply be networks of online educational exchanges between developed and developing nations. It is this future that GBSN strives for and hopes to achieve by continuously fostering relationships between business programs worldwide.

>>Click Here for Original Article

Rodrigo Futema is the Communications and Event Planning Intern at the Global Business School Network 

Tags:  Business Education  Impact  Innovation  Management Education  MBA  social entrepreneurship  technology 

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