April 19, 2014

Haas Online Learning Opportunities Evolve, Expand

Lessons gleaned from last year’s pilots will inform the evolution and expansion of Berkeley-Haas online learning offerings this year, with both retooled and new courses joining the lineup.

For the first time, Assistant Professor Zsolt Katona is hybridizing two sections of his Social Media Marketing Course this fall (one for full-time and one for weekend MBA students). Online components will make up one-third of the course experience, and Katona is teaching the balance of the course in a classroom.

“I can produce better quality lectures with the edited video,” says Katona. “Students can stop it anytime, ask questions, and discuss it among themselves. The exercises in between force them to think about the issues and everybody has an equal chance of answering.”

Katona adds that online discussions will allow him to see everyone’s opinions, which he plans to incorporate into classroom discussion.

Power and Politics, a highly popular MBA course taught by Professor Cameron Anderson, was one of three pilots run last fall, with an online version of the course for students in both the Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA programs. This fall marks the launch of a revamped website and platform for the online course that Anderson says is “much more intuitive to use.” He also notes that faster download times are allowing for a conversation flow that “mimics the in-person experience as much as possible, with back-and-forth and even spontaneous interjections.”

Similar to last year, Anderson’s course is a mix of asynchronous content, such as lectures and readings available for consumption on the student’s preferred schedule, and synchronous content, with students gathering online for live lectures and class discussions. “This approach gives me an opportunity to hear from many more people in discussions and online chats,” says Anderson.

The increased data available on students' learning and participation deepens his understanding of where they may need help, Anderson adds.

“Power and Politics online allowed me to join class in a more comfortable home setting, avoid the one-hour commute to campus, and see participation from more students,” says Philip Tam, MBA 14, who took the course last year. “With the web-based format, we had forums that allowed much deeper discussions than in-class conversations, and we had games and simulation tools that illustrated Power and Politics concepts in a more interactive fashion.”

Adam Berman, executive director of online initiatives, says online learning opportunities will continue to expand at Haas. To support this growth, the school is hiring a digital program manager, and Abby Scott, who held leadership roles in MBA Career Management  and Executive Education, has taken on the role of associate director of online initiatives.

“Just as we've seen technology and globalization transform other sectors over the last two decades, these same forces are now in the early stages of transforming higher education,” says Berman. “Education is one of the last areas of life to synch with our ‘digital-native’ population of students—who already live their lives through technology."

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