Monday, November 15, 2010

The Online MBA Post

Hi, all - I thought I'd let any remaining readers know that I've tried to re-kindle my blogging effort, as well as put a platform out there to connect & network with other online MBAs.  Please give it a visit at:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

wow - people still read this!

I realized this still gets a few visits a day, which considering it's gone ignored for over 2 years - I find impressive.

So who still reads this? I'm thinking of maybe picking it up and dusting it off, in my copious free-time (ha!), and just continuing some level of analysis & commentary on the good, bad & ugly of online MBA programs, and online education in general.

At any rate, for the interested - not long after my last post, due to some personal circumstances (referenced in the post ;-) ...), I cranked up the job hunt, and changed employers and cities/states, to be closer to family. I'm now working for a "large consulting firm", based in Atlanta, GA.

Anyway - if you're reading any old post on the blog and have questions - feel free to drop a comment, and I'll do my best to answer!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What ELSE I did while in school

I just thought this might be a fun quick exercise, if nothing else for amusement/history - but also to perhaps demonstrate the "flexibility" benefit of going online, especially with a few things falling into the "life happens" category!

Roughly chronologically...
  • Traveled out-of-town to see family for the Holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc) routinely, almost always submitting a quiz or final while I was there (funny how that worked out...)
  • Got a new job with a new company
  • Moved across the country for said job (in the middle of Marketing), including selling a house, etc.
  • Went to a funeral back across the country (worked on a module & case competition)
  • Spent 2 weeks in India on business (and turned in a quiz overlooking the Arabian Sea ;-) ...)
  • Had a baby (well, my wife did ;-) ...) in the middle of the last class (read a module & case waiting in the hospital).
  • Baby had brain surgery (youch!) the day before faux-graduation (didn't go, needless to say! She's okay; more on her here if interested)
  • Did the whole "newborn" thing while finishing up the capstone course for the last few weeks.
I know many others who traveled quite a bit more than I, and I wasn't the only one to move mid-class (though I can't say I recommend it), have a baby, attend an out-of-state funeral for a relative, or have their child have surgery, all while in school. But - there ya have it!

Oh - the one thing I didn't do while in school (except while on summer break)? Go on vacation. ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Course Time Question

[Ed. note: I received a few very interesting questions/comments on my last post. I'm a busy guy right now - I was promoted at work a few months back, so that load has increased, and I'm also recently the proud father of a brand-new baby girl - both good things, but both eat my time - so I'll try and get to those comments/questions over the next few days/week or so.]

I had a question regarding my thoughts on what I boil down to the "quality" of class-time:
"Do you think that 5 weeks +1 week is too short to learn a course? How do you feel? Do you feel that there are something else important left out that you would like to explore?"
So, I thought I'd break it down question by question -

Course Duration
"Is 5+1 weeks too short to learn a course?"

The ASU standard academic calendar for Fall 2007 runs 20-Aug to 12-Dec (including finals); about 16.5 weeks. Back out 2 days off for Thanksgiving; 1 day off for labor day; 1 day off for Veteran's day - and let's call that 1 week backed-out (okay; 4 days; work with me), for a total of 15.5 weeks of class in a standard semester. Back out 6 more days for finals; call it one week, so we're at 14.5 weeks of instruction in a standard semester. Assuming 4 credit-hour classes, that's (14.5*4=) 58 hours of classtime instruction per class. Of course, you'd slap however much outside of class work needed on top of that.

The Online Program has 3 classes at 5 weeks of class, plus 1 week of finals, per class. The program advises to plan to spend 20-25 hours/week on class. So, that's 5 weeks @ 20 hours/wk = 100 hours of classtime instruction and outside of class work per class.

So, in short - the "class time hours" adds up to me. The question then becomes, is 5 weeks too short of a duration to "input" that much material?

In my opinion - no. "Mini-mesters" or "May-mesters" have been around for a while, and your standard brick-and-mortar B-schools also have some classes taken on a compressed or shortened basis, even within their regular term.

That, however, is not to say that it may not be a challenge! Some courses packed a lot of material into those 5 weeks. I do feel, however, that my original assumption that taking shorter (but more compact) classes in series, rather than longer (but "less dense") classes in parallel would be preferable, as the question of "focus" is easily answered.

The analogy I've used before is that of carrying bowling balls - the goal is to carry 30 pounds of bowling balls for 15 miles. You can:
  • Carry a single 30-pound bowling ball for 5 miles; stop and swap out for a different 30-pound bowling ball carried for 5 more miles; do it once more, or
  • Carry three 10-pound bowling balls for 15 miles straight.
The weight carried is the same; the distance traveled is the same - but something's just easier about only having to keep up with one bowling ball at time. ;-)

Exploring Other Stuff
"Do you feel that there are something else important left out that you would like to explore?"

This is one definite limitation of the online program - at least with ASU, you don't have the option to explore electives. I went in full-well recognizing this; that the degree offered was one in "General Management", and had no electives. That notwithstanding, I still wouldn't mind seeing some electives offered. The marginal cost to the program once a course exists is pretty minimal, so it's just a matter of getting the course developed.

So what would I have liked to explore? Additional (or more advanced) Supply Chain & Operations Management, and perhaps a variety of finance-related electives - namely perhaps around corporate valuation and derivatives.

All that said - It may be because I had other stuff going on, but by the end - I cannot honestly fathom having worked in an elective. ;-) Would it have been conceptually possible to have done electives over the summer break, or extend the program by a month or two? Yeah. Would I have gone completely crazy if so? Yeah. ;-)

Anyway - hopefully that answers the commenter's questions. If not, post back, and I'll get back to it as I have time (with a newborn at home, it now comes at a premium! ;-) ...).

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Wow - have I not posted since November?!!?

Clearly - I completely ran out of time for this thing. Which I guess speaks to the quality of the program, my job, my family - or all of the above. ;-)

BUT - for now - I AM DONE. Assuming my final project passes, anyway. ;-) To the 3 people that read this - now ya know. ;-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Job

I guess the title says most of it... I'm actually just shy of 3 months into it, now. Yes, I no longer work for a Pretty Big ManufacturerTM, in Nashville, TN. ;-)

In short, for a variety of reasons, I started looking around some this past spring. Not in a very serious "must-have-a-new-job-now" sort of way; just seeing what was out there. I ended up with two fairly attractive offers to consider. In the end, I went with one that's taken me to Phoenix, AZ - yes, a long way from Nashville, TN (to the tune of 1,700 miles or so). I may try and post more detail of my decision process, et al, on that one at a later date, but for now, this is the brief.

I think it will be a really good move for me - clearly I wouldn't have moved cross-country otherwise, and it definitely seems to have been thus far. It's taken me out of supply chain systems and into project management - though I still hold that life's just one big supply chain; it's all in how you look it at. ;-)

Anyhow, I like to play a bit coy with exactly who my employer is (past and present) on this blog, though if you try hard enough (and not really that hard), you can probably find my entire employment history. I will say that the position I ended up taking was a direct result of a connection via the MBA program.

Clearly, then, I have found some benefit in the program. Additionally, though, the fact that it was online gave me the freedom to consider a cross-country move without disrupting my school schedule - had I been attending a physical location, I would have been much more "chained" to my (now former) location.

So - that's it for now. Hardly an excuse for my paltry updates, but hopefully it explains some of why I slacked off - I've had just a few things going on. ;-) And now that we're out of Finance - taught by a prof who is widely agreed to be the toughest in the program - I'm hoping to publish updates a bit more frequently. But I guess we'll see.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Innovation Challenge

Okay, I'm insanely remiss in this poor blog - I'm beyond even trying to make an excuse - but I thought this warranted an update for all 3 readers.

Myself and several of my cohort-mates particpated in the Innovation Challenge recently. Another team from our cohort also formed, making 2 of the 3 teams from ASU being online teams.

Coincidentally, both teams got assigned the Amex OPEN option.

Long story short, we placed #14 of those that chose the Amex OPEN option. Though I really, really wanted a Top 10 placement, this isn't too bad. We beat out a few teams from some very notable schools - MIT, Duke, SMU-Cox, Vanderbilt, Rice, UT-McCombs, UVA (with as many teams as they fielded, as the host school - that one's not very statistically significant) and the like - so I'll take it.

2006 Innovation Challenge Amex OPEN Results

And just to harp on my previous post - a healthy number of top-50 finishing teams (in all "options") were based in India, with a majority from ISB. I really think this speaks to not just the "technology" (engineering et al) education gap, US v. India, but the overall education gap. The quality of the Indian education is clearly not to be taken for granted, yet the quantity of output is still staggering. This will have interesting and far-reaching ramifications, to say the least - but it's far too past my bedtime to continue pondering on them. Perhaps later. ;-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Connected Learning Gains Ground...

... in India.

Connected learning gains ground

Nothing otherwise unique about the article; it's a quick read.

My thoughts: It's intuitively cheap to deliver online education (contrary to what my tuition bill might reflect! ;-) ...). Institutions in lower-cost countries will accept lower margins - and indeed, US/European institutions might accept lower margins in order to deliver to them.

So, advanced degrees - MBA's in particular - get commoditized. I kind of figured this was coming in the US; heck, it's part of why I opted for online. The MBA is fast becoming the new bachelor's degree - it will matter less and less where (or how) you got it; you just need to have it. It's not as much of a differentiator anymore, at least in and of itsself. But it's not just the local populace - it's the international populace.

Read: It's not just programming and engineering up for out-sourcing before too long - better differentiate!

Take note, my friends!


Friday, July 21, 2006

Quick update...

First off - apologies to anyone who actually reads this. I've been quite remiss in any proper updates. For better (or worse!), I can attribute the bulk of that to school! ;-) The time commitment really turned up some with Organizational Behavior in the spring. As much as I enjoy putting excrutiatingly-detailed reviews together, they definitely take time.

That said, I'd planned on picking up the slack this summer. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. ;-) I just returned from 2nd Year Orientation last weekend - which was a blast, if not too short - but we'll be cranking back up with Marketing on Monday. I've had a few personal things going on as well - some really good; some not-so-good - that have sucked away the time, and will likely continue to for the near-term. So, sadly, I don't see much more detailed posting in the interrim - I'll try, but I apologize in advance.

Anyhow - it's a paltry offering, but since it's somewhat related to the above, here's an interesting take on work-life balance and the online MBA by the Telegraph.
Going online for a better life-work balance

To me, it's all in how you define "work-life balance". If it's not having to move, being able to study from geographically flexible locations (e.g. home with the baby; on an aircraft carrier; whatever), and maintaining a full-time salary, then yes - an online MBA definitely provides for a better work-life balance.

However, if you define or include "personal time" as a component of "work-life balance"... well... let's just say the MBA doesn't take zero time. ;-) As well it shouldn't take zero time. My personal take at this juncture - halfway there! - is that yes, though an online MBA allows you more flexibility, depending on the "compression" of the program, is that it can actually erode work-life balance, at least considering personal time. As in - great; I don't have to stop work, and I have the freedom to study from anywhere, but it for darn sure takes up some time, which is a key component of "work-life balance", especially if your life includes a significant other(s - for those with kids!). ;-)

This is not to say I'd have it any other way - less-rigorous, less-compressed, not now, or anything else - but to me, deciding to pursue a part-time MBA is deciding to do so knowing that your work-life balance will definitely change for the duration of the program.
You're accepting the reduction in the "personal time" component of the work-life balance, understanding that (a) that's temporary, (b) it affects other areas of your work-life balance less than other options, and (c) it will hopefully improve your work-life balance in the long run.

Bottom line: It takes time. Don't think that it doesn't. :-)

Friday, March 10, 2006

CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

From CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

I've got mixed opinions on this one. The short of it is:
Slipped into a $39.5 billion budget package that passed both houses last Tuesday was a provision that repealed what used to be known as "the 50-50 rule," which required colleges and vocational schools to offer at least 50% of their courses in traditional bricks-and-mortar classrooms before their students could qualify for federal loan programs. Now that the 50-50 rule is history, long-distance learning is accessible to many more students.
The particularly good part of it is, the funds will only be available to accredited colleges. Now, it doesn't make mention of who does the accrediting - a question you should always ask - but my assumption is that it's one of the "Big Six" regional accrediting bodies.

Personally and speaking for myself - I wouldn't yet want to attend any online school without a "brick-and-mortar" existence. A large part of this is due to my educational goals - I want to be taught by faculty that do research and other academic field work. My inclination is that, at this juncture, a purely online institution generally won't have much of that to offer. This doesn't take away from the quality of the education provided, but it does somewhat limit the type or nature of education that can be provided.

Then there's still the issue of general acceptance. Though I still believe online education is becoming more and more accepted, I still don't think many people are quite ready to accept a purely online institution. With a "brick-and-mortar" institution, they might know the name, the sports team, their buddy that went there, that they've been around for 100 years - all these things add legitimacy. That's unavailable with a purely online institution.

Note that the above, to me, does not detract from the quality education that can or will probably be able to be obtained there - just don't expect a purely online school to carry the same name-value of a "brick-and-mortar" institution anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BW: Online Education Never Felt So Real

An interesting read (chat transcript, really) with some students in the online program at Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain

BusinessWeek: Online Education Never Felt So Real

One well-to-note point about their program is that at least part of it is synchronous (as opposed to asynchronous) - so you do have to be logged in at a specific time.

There were two particularly good quotes/insights that apply to online education in general that caught my eye, both by David Standen:
The truth is, businesses have been demanding more of this kind of program for a long time. They run their entire operations in a blended format -- presentational and online -- and are used to maintaining relationships using online media. They have no problem accepting this like any other MBA program.
From my side, one of the places we've seen a big difference is in the level of networking after graduation. In a traditional program, students are used to seeing each other every morning, so when they disperse around the world, they don't maintain close contact because they're not used to the daily Internet communication.
Anyhow - give it a read!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lehigh goes online

I'm in the middle of finals week for Operations & Supply Management - which consists of a team and an individual portion - and my brother is getting married this weekend (far, far out of town, of course), so I'm quite busy!! Thereby, this one's just a quickie - Yet another school going online with their MBA - Lehigh:

MBA program makes move to online

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Growing By Degrees

One of my fellow online students posted a link to Growing By Degrees (pdf; 280K), an interesting-looking paper by faculty at Babson (another institution very big into online education) and the Sloan Consortium. I have yet to read the whole thing - it weighs in at 28 pages - but another fellow student had this comment, which I thought was well-put:
I think we all had the foresight that distance learning had growth potential and we took the chance. Institutions that denied this market potential are presently in catch up mode. All the while, the WP Carey Online staff has had the opportunity to perfect their delivery model, and now have references (grads) to back up the program. ASU and the Online MBA staff have much to be proud of!!! The business risk paid off, and everybody will benefit from the program.
Anyhow - That's it!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

AP: Some Students Prefer Taking Classes Online

Thanks to one of my classmates for the pointer to this, via our class forums:

Some Students Prefer Taking Classes Online

Interesting article. The profile a senior working on his undergrad in Business. The article seems to unofficially focus on undergraduate degrees online. Personally, I think for your traditional college undergrad - 18-22 years old or so, no exceptional circumstances - in-person is more valuable, if nothing else because it takes care of the discipline for you. Yeah, you actually have to wake up and get out of bed, but that's about it - between taking attendance and knowing that may be the only way you'll get the material, you have plenty of external motivators to participate, without self-discipline of your own accord. With your average 18-year-old undergrad, discipline is not usually the first thing on their mind. With online, you must have much more discipline - You have to overcome the "I can just do it later", or "There's no attendance" factors. This is also noted in the article:
Then there's the question of whether students are well served by taking a course online instead of in-person. Some teachers are wary, saying showing up to class teaches discipline, and that lectures and class discussions are an important part of learning.

But online classes aren't necessarily easier. Two-thirds of schools responding to a recent survey by The Sloan Consortium agreed that it takes more discipline for students to succeed in an online course than in a face-to-face one.
Personally, having done both, I feel qualified to agree with the Sloan Consortium' findings. ;-)

Anyhow - The aforementioned profiled student did do his first two years of school in-person - this is more amenable to me. A lot of maturing goes on in those first two years. I did take one course via distance (old-school - by video) while pursuing my undergrad, in my third year or so. It also took more discipline - I did it while co-oping - so after a full day's work, I had to come home and pop in a Thermodynamics lecture - not exactly your exciting evening entertainment. ;-)

I'll close with one last quote, from ASU:

Administrators say the distinction between online and traditional is now so meaningless it may not even be reflected in next fall's course catalogue.

I know I've said it 963 times, but sometimes I enjoy beating a dead horse: Online continues to gain more acceptance, and universities not distinguishing like this is both indicative of that and enhances that acceptance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

SHRM: Employers Warm Up To Online Education

A good read over at - the Society for Human Resource Management:

Employers Warm Up To Online Education

The main point that I found interesting was noted by PHH Mortgage and Drexel:
Even though the company also supports an MBA program taught on-site, employees favor the online school.
Sure, it's just one company and one school, but to me, that speaks volumes on how equitably those employees must view the programs.

The article also has several links to other articles referenced, which look like good reading, but I haven't had a chance to plow through them yet.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Comment Roundup

Well, I'm loving break so far - other than some car troubles, but so it goes - I'm planning to finish my Financial Accounting review in the next few days. Until then, here's just a few comments that have been posted here that I thought might be of interest:
  • Anonymous on Penn State (Anonymous, or anyone else at PSU Online - I'd love to hear more!)
  • Steffan on Online Degrees in general

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ECN 502 - Managerial Economics

Okay - this post is long overdue, but hey - better late than never! I actually started this a good while back (10/24/05), but then Financial Accounting came along ... but that's for another post. ;-)

This course was really great - but it also kept me really busy! So, I didn't get any post in during the middle of the course, as intended - so this will be both a detailed review of the course, upon having just completed it.

Managerial Economics. Hm. So what's it all about?
Managerial Economics is not designed to "make you into an economist." Rather, the course is designed to provide you with the basic platform for all managerial decision making.
So, that said... Some background. This was our second class. For me, it took notably more work than the previous course, as was anticipated. I haven't had an Econ course in a good ... probably 5 years or more. I like Economics - as described by a classmate, it's a unique blend of history, psychology, and math, all of which I enjoy - but it's been a while since I studied it. So, I anticipated heavier time spent on this course, and that turned out to be a more than accurate prediction. ;-)

Faculty Interaction
We had two professors teaching this class - Drs. Burgess and Chade. Both of them were really great. Dr. Burgess demonstrated his commitment to us by posting the first week or so of the course from his villa on St. John. *drool* I guess maybe he does know a thing or two about economics! ;-)
Anyhow, Dr. Burgess taught the first two and half or three weeks of the course, and then Dr. Chade took over. Both professors were very prompt with the message boards - they both seemed to really enjoy helping us understand - always the mark of a good teacher. Many different anecdotes, stories, examples - anything to help the material sink in.

Peer Interaction
The peer interaction for this course really jumped up for me. We were to work in our sub-teams on the weekly homework assignments. My group's interaction on the task was so-so - some of my group was very excited to work together to get it done, others rathered to go it alone. That concerns me some for future classes, where our team interaction will play a larger role in the course, but so it goes. Past that, I also really got to know even better and communicate with other members of my cohort outside of my team, which has been quite nice.

Thus far, this was probably the best course in terms of discussion of topics in the forums, in my view. This was primarily due to the content of the discussion. Where the discussion of the previous course was a bit more applied/problem based (e.g. "How do you do XYZ again?"), the discussion here was much more rounded, in terms of tackling implications of the topics. Economics as a subject lends itsself quite naturally to discussion, but I really appreciated all the different anecdotes and examples that were shared and discussed on the board, from people's "day jobs". To me this highlights yet again the benfits of a part-time program - online or otherwise.

First off, I had Macro and Micro Economics in my undergrad curriculum, in addition to Engineering Economy, which is more "applied", in the sense of valuing projects, present value, etc. Granted, my undergrad econ classes were early in my collegiate career, so my memory may be a bit spotty - but I swear that we covered the high points of a full semester of Micro econ in the first week. Phew!

The course covered 5 basic topics (e.g. modules):
  1. Foundations of Economics
  2. Supply, Optimization, and Market Structures
  3. Optimal Firm Decisions
  4. Pricing with Market Power
  5. Strategy: Game Theory for Managers
In addition to the modules, we also studied a number of individual firms by way of publications - Polaroid, American Airlines, etc. It was quite interesting to see the "real world" implications of the material.

As noted in other posts - the final was quite difficult. I did have a request to post some of the final, but I don't think I'll be able to do so - I will say that it was roughly half multiple choice, and half free response. The multiple choice was definitely tricky, but the free response was where it really amped up. However, I definitely appreciate the rigorousness - I wouldn't have it any other way. ;-)

Great course. This really reminded me of - or showed me - how much I enjoy the subject. I guess you could say it's the mark of a good course if it changes how you think about things in your day-to-day life - For whatever reason, I didn't get that effect out of my undergrad econ courses, but after this course, I definitely find myself thinking more "economically" day-to-day. I don't mean "cheaply" - I've always been cheap - but the economic reasons and reasoning behind decisions - in the news, at work, otherwise. I now follow several economics blogs in my regular news feeds - Adam Smith Lives, Cafe Hayek, EconLog, Marginal Revolution, and William Polley. Anyhow - highly recommended!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ASU/W.P. Carey Chat - Dec. 8

From the ASU/W.P. Carey Online Program homepage - as before, I'll try and be there, at least for a bit.

Chat with us!

Get your questions answered by Admission Representatives in our December 8th Chat Session. Simply log into the chat session on Thursday, December 8, 2005 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. MST (1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EST).

Anyone is welcome to participate at anytime during the two-hour session.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Business 2.0: A Degree of Respect for Online MBAs

Business 2.0 (December 2005): A Degree of Respect for Online MBAs

I won't spend a ton of time looking at this one, perhaps for obvious reasons. In short, I think it sums up my stance: Don't expect Harvard-level cachet or commensurate salaries/jobs, but do expect a quality education (if you've done your homework on the program!), and a degree that is widely accepted by many, and will be moreso by all as time goes on.

Generally positive of online MBAs. Lists a wide variety of schools, which I think is good. Offers several profiles of different students, which offers a good feel of the different programs and reasons for choosing online out there. One quote was offered up by an HR manager at Intel that I also gave, just about verbatim, and I think really makes an excellent case for online MBAs:
“I work with people all the time whom I rarely meet face-to-face,” says Intel’s Fisher. “That is the real world of business today, and anybody who says online MBAs don’t work is just fooling themselves.”
Like it or not - in a knowledge-based economy, distributed teams is the name of the game.

I do wish they had spent more time detailing the for profit vs. traditional institutions and the role of AACSB accreditation, and how to choose a program in general - I tried to impress that in my interviews, but so it goes. :-)

A well-written, informative article - for anyone thinking about an online MBA or anyone thinking about hiring an online MBA - and I know that Krysten put a good bit of time into it. Give it a read!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving Update

No rest for the weary!

Whereas other schools are letting off for Thanksgiving (my buddy at Vanderbilt full-time is off an entire week!), we are ploughing on through! Ouch! We're currently in week 4 of Financial Accounting. This is all-new stuff for me, so it's been a good bit of work so far. I'm really appreciating what I'm getting out of the class - I feel that I've got a pretty solid fundamental understanding of accounting concepts, how to analyze financial statements, and the like. I don't appreciate the reading - not exactly the most entertaining stuff to read! But, it must be done .... back to it!