Distance Learning MBA participant, Frances Lasok, works in tech policy advocating on behalf of the UK's tech startups, and prior to that worked as a political strategist. In a voluntary capacity, she has also worked extensively on initiatives that increase access for women into politics. With a demanding work schedule, Frances shares why online learning suited her needs.
Dot Powell, Director of Teaching and Learning Enhancement at Warwick Business School shares the secrets behind running the Distance Learning MBA.
For five years running, Warwick Business School’s (WBS) Distance Learning MBA has been number one in the Financial Times ranking of online MBAs globally – an accolade we are incredibly proud of. Our Distance Learning MBA has been running for more than 30 years and has built its reputation on a strong balance between theory and practice, and a commitment to going beyond the classroom.
What is the secret to our success? Ultimately, it comes down to those behind the scenes. The faculty, learning designers, media team, publishing team and administrators, collaborating together to support our students. Using their creativity to think outside of the box about how we can innovate in the space and utilise immersive technologies to deliver course content in an interactive and engaging manner.
Delivering learning experiences requires teamwork
Running any higher education course requires a dedicated team. Everybody from those registering and enrolling students, to those creating the syllabus, and then teaching the course, plays a key role in the success of a programme. At WBS, teamwork underpins our achievements.
In the March 2022 edition of the Financial Times‘ ranking, graduates from the Distance Learning MBA praised our online platform and programme materials, careers service, and support available in developing start-ups in their feedback, which is all testament to the team behind the course.
We take a collaborative approach from top to bottom to support students, run the online programme day-to-day, and design content that gives our participants the best learning experience. This not only makes our Distance Learning MBA a great programme, but enables us to tap into the creativity of each of our colleagues to find ways in which we can enhance the course further.
Innovating in course delivery
As an online programme, our bread and butter is the content we deliver to students to engage them in the course and enable them to succeed in their studies. While the programme does include two weeks of face-to-face learning, the majority is delivered remotely, so we draw on the most up-to-date theories of online engagement to create interactive content to allow students to immerse themselves in the course – just providing textbooks to read and digest is not enough.
As such, we’ve built technology into the foundations of the programme. Learning content includes live lectures and pre-recorded video content, which can be anything from video case studies, filmed on location to state-of-the art lightboard talks. We believe that this varied approach to content has the potential to provide as valuable an experience as face-to-face learning, as we’re able to take students far beyond the lecture hall. Green screens and live streaming studios are already in use during video creation, but investing in an immersive presentation environment is our next big project. The addition of an extended reality stage which will enable us to provide a live-lecture experience that is immersive and encourages even greater participation.
Making our online MBA a platform for all
Delivering on our commitment to giving students choice when it comes to how they access the course certainly sets WBS apart, and being guided by the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles contributes to our number one online MBA status.
UDL principles push us to go a step beyond accessibility and embrace a way of thinking that enables us to give all students an equal opportunity to succeed. The average age of those on our course is 36, and we find that students come from various walks of life and often have additional commitments away from their studies, whether that’s a family or full/part-time employment, for example.
For example, in order to ensure that our materials are accessible to all we have integrated Otter.ai, the AI-powered notetaking and collaboration tool, into our content creation processes. We use Otter to automatically transcribe and provide live captions for all of our pre-recorded content, allowing students to absorb learning in whatever way suits them best. Whether that is learning through watching a video, listening with subtitles, or even just reading a transcript, we empower them with the choice through technology.
What does it take to run the best online MBA in the world?
The WBS Distance Learning MBA didn’t become the best overnight, to reach this point we have built a well-oiled machine behind the scenes. There’s no one secret to our success, but by committing to collaboration and empowering our team, utilising tools that can help us to scale, and striving to understand how we can best serve our students, we have been able to create a fantastic learning experience which helps our graduates to succeed.