Wednesday, December 03, 2014 at 2pm

MOOC MBA Journey Offers Insight into the Format: MBA News

MOOC MBA insights from one student's journey

One student’s ambition of earning a MOOC MBA in its entirety over a three-year period has already garnered quite a lot of coverage. Indeed, Laurie Pickard who works in international development for USAID and is currently based in Rwanda explains the decision process behind her business education mission here on TopMBA.com.

However, more than a year into a journey that has seen her take a dozen MOOC MBA sessions (which she has approximated to the value of US$50k) Laurie Pickard is in a position of great strength when it comes to judging the landscape of the format.

Indeed, while she has no reservations about how useful the pursuit of MOOC MBA knowledge has already been to her own circumstances and her current work, she is also alive to the format’s limitations.

For example, she believes that keeping students motivated and improving the low completion rates seen among MOOC subjects are areas that need addressing before the format can fulfill its full potential.

Better incentives needed for MOOC students says Laurie Pickard

“I think for MOOCs to really be a force in the business school world or the university world, there needs to be a different incentive structure. The incentives just aren't there,” Laurie Pickard explained in a recent interview with Philly.com.

One idea is for MOOCs to offer credits that are transferable to a degree – a concept that has gained resonance in Spanish-language offerings from Peru’s CENTRUM Católica. Indeed, there's an argument (touched on in this article)  that MOOCs would have to become degree bearing before they can be considered genuine competition for traditional models of higher education.

Another drawback, and one that is often cited when it comes to distance learning, is Pickard’s view on the level of peer-to-peer interaction she has found in the MOOC MBA environment:

“The social experience of learning, I've gotten it to some extent. But it's nowhere near to what you get in a typical classroom. It's not a technological limitation, it's just the size of the class – tens of thousands of students,” she says.

This has also meant that networking – considered to be a fairly invaluable part of the business school experience – is a lot harder for those in remote locations and unable to attend any in-person events that course providers might be hosting.

All told, Laurie Pickard says she spends about 10 hours a week on her MOOC MBA quest – but this includes documenting her journey on the No-Pay MBA blog. In coming this far, she has also found a great deal of variety in the level of involvement required to take different MOOC modules. At the harder end of the spectrum, her latest entry addresses the difficulty of a supply chain and logistics course she’s currently taking with MIT (edX).            

Main tag

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

Tags used in this blog post