Tippie merges MBA programs, with emphasis on flexibility and online development

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Tippie College of Business has merged its part-time online professional program with its professional program, allowing students to choose online or in-person formats without losing out on learning.


The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business has reinvented its online Master of Business Administration program, merging part-time and full-time professional programs with student flexibility as a top priority.

The program, which was introduced in 2019, is the only online MBA program offered by a public university in Iowa. The program is primarily conducted asynchronously, with students completing most of the work at their own pace online. There are also weekly synchronous sessions for students to ask questions and get help.

Jen Blackhurst, associate dean of graduate management programs at Tippie, said that before the merger, professional MBA students, who took face-to-face classes at the three Iowa sites, and professional students at part-time, which were online, encountered many obstacles when trying to switch from one format to another.

“Students now have the freedom and flexibility to choose the format they want,” said Blackhurst.

She added that many students may choose to take an online course in Des Moines on one subject, but opt ​​for the online version of another course due to their work schedule or other desires.

For those who choose online education, Blackhurst said Tippie believes it is important that nothing is lost between in-person and online education. To achieve this, the teachers coordinated with the instructional designers of the UI Distance & Online Education department when creating their online program.

According to Blackhurst, professors spent nine months working with designers to develop each class’s curriculum in a thorough and thoughtful way to facilitate online learning as much as in-person learning.

Amy Colbert, professor of management and entrepreneurship at Tippie, said she has been involved in online education since 2010 and teaches in the program.

Colbert said his first online course was just a primitive voice-over PowerPoint presentation. The evolution of her classes over the past decade, she said, has been heavily influenced by how she and her instructional designer have developed the classroom. Still, she said she lacks in-person and classroom interaction, which energizes her.

Some aspects of Colbert’s classroom design are enhanced by online learning, she said, to make it more beneficial to take her online course in person.

She said her frequent use of Zoom workspaces in the online classroom worked better than any in-person activity. She also pointed out that smaller, more focused discussion forums help students connect and learn from each other.

“It’s important to me that students interact with each other and with me, because there’s a lot of learning that happens in these interactions,” Colbert said. “It’s really interesting to see how these conversations take place in an asynchronous or on-demand environment. “

Susan Bailey, principal instructional designer of Tippie’s online courses and a member of the UI Distance & Online Education program, said it’s important that students feel welcome when they interact with their course page, as they might. with a classroom.

“We request [professors] to do things like infuse warmth and personality into their writing, ”Bailey said,“ because not everything about facilitation is something you do in the moment. In an online course, part of what you do in advance.

Blackhurst developed a course in the online program and said that the success of the program requires a great deal of dedication from faculty on many fronts, both in their teaching and in their personal education on how best to conduct classes in line.

“It’s a change, and change is difficult,” Blackhurst said. “What we are seeing is that we are able to reach more students and connect with them no matter where they are.


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