Distance MBA program, as the name suggests, is pursued via correspondence, i.e., remote communication between student and teacher. Education in this manner imparts lessons to students, who are not physically present in a classroom.
It is ideal for people with limited time and resources. Anyone can opt for this mode of learning, a working professional, fresh graduate, or home-maker. All that is needed is that the applicant must meet the course requirements and have some basic degree. Notably, the cost of distance learning program is less than the cost of its full-time counterpart.
An MBA degree is often a deal-maker in terms of a good job in the corporate world. It is very difficult to juggle work, family and study, however. Hence, the distance learning MBA becomes a perfect choice for those who have other responsibilities to consider as well. Financial situations and geographical location of the candidate don’t play too major a role in their eligibility for the distance courses. This is also a big contributing factor to the growing popularity of Distance Learning MBA.
Students are given study material (books or soft material) and assignments, which need to be submitted within a specified time period. This is followed by semester-wise, bi-annually or annual exams at a common exam center. While this is flexible and very accommodating distance mode education requires dedication and disciple. There is always the risk of losing seriousness for the lessons due to the absence of regular class hours and a fixed timetable.
- No Direct Contact with faculty/peers:This is the one major disadvantage of distance learning-lack of personal interaction with teachers often affects the some students‘ability to learn. The lack of personal interaction might make one feel detached and lonely also.
- Technology Dependence: Some distance learning programs require a steady internet connection for justice to be made of their resources. Unless one is comfortable with internet technology usage, studying and interacting with an online faculty and peers will become a difficult task.
- Lack of Discipline: As there is no teacher asking for assignments and reminding one of deadlines for assignments, there are chances that it will not be taken seriously. One must be very disciplined and organized in order to make full use of the distance learning program.
- Availability of choice courses: Another major disadvantage of distance learning is that not all courses can be taught online as they are only suitable for practical methods of learning or teaching.
- Value of a distance degree: Some employers will always prefer a candidate who has pursued a full time course over those who have pursued the distance learning method. This is one of the biggest prejudices faced after completion of the course.
- Flexibility: Flexibility is the biggest advantage of distance learning courses as one can learn and earn at the same time. Many people have responsibilities to take care of at young ages, and do not have the luxury of finishing their studies first. For such people, these courses are god-sent and give them an excellent opportunity to pursue higher studies related to their work. Also, flexibility in terms of pacing one-self is offered. Some students learn faster than others. Distance learning courses allow one the freedom to learn at their own speed. You can also pick which topic t study in what order, Unlike a class, wherein one must go along with the teacher’s choice or lesson plan.
- Saves Time & Energy: All the usual time a student spends in commuting and going to classes can be avoided. It allows one to pursue courses only available in other cities, as well. One might be living in a small town or village where options for higher studies are very limited. Distance learning courses allow one to overcome these obstacles. Also, in terms of convenience, assignments can be submitted online or by simply mailing it back to the faculty.
- Less Expensive: These courses are almost always cheaper as compared to their full-time counterparts. As mentioned earlier. The cost of commuting is also brought down to zero.
- Round-the-Clock Access to Study Material & resources:For those comfortable with using technology and the virtual world, this is an ideal way of learning. One can access study material online whenever one wants and also clear doubts, exchange views and discuss topics with the virtual peers.
For the past few years, there has been a clear lack of demand for those who have pursued their MBA through a correspondence course rather than a full time option. The distance learning mode has been regarded as the poor cousin of its more conventional counterpart, owing to the supposedly lower standards of the study material, environment, lack of chance to form a network of peers etc. However, we see now, that things are gradually changing.
Primarily, in this respect is the quality of education and interaction that can be offered by institutions in their distance learning programs as a result of the incredible development of technology in the past five years. While there is still a large variation in what type of resources are provided online, preconceptions are definitely being swept away. The concept of distance learning is being redefined. No longer are the students cut off from the experience of classroom learning. While it may never be the same, exact experience, many programs are adopting a blended style of teaching, involving face to face interaction and periods of online group study. This allows for the freedom and flexibility of the distance learning program, while also bringing the candidate out of their seclusion.
Such interaction is very important, especially for such a field as Management as it involves interaction with all sorts of people every day. This technological advancement and shift in methodology gives participants the opportunity to meet with their class mates both face to face and online allowing them to imbibe and learn many of the soft skills elements now critical to all MBA programs.
A shift in the Program Implementation:
Many programs have tried to implement the same tactics as their full time counterparts, using case studies and group discussions as central elements of the experience. All of this is arranged in such a way that each interaction and online study period is over different duration and timing, allowing working students to take part at a time of their convenience and still derive the benefits. The learning experience may be different from a full time program but the quality will be comparable and sometimes even better.
Another major point to be kept in mind is that the distance learning method allows working professionals to enroll. The level of knowledge and learning experience may very well be enhanced in this case as the student is able to apply what he/she learns into his daily work immediately .They are able to derive the benefits of a part time program of study, while putting into practice, what they are learning each day. Hence they are able to gain experience not only from their own practical exposure, but also those of their virtual classmates.
Having put forth all this, it is important to note that ultimately factors such as Institute brand, reputation, accreditation and rankings all play a big role in judging the quality of their distance learning MBA program. Also, personal preferences and responsibilities will weigh in on the final decision being made. One can thus rest assured now, that a high quality Distance Learning MBA degree from a reputed institute will be as valuable as the same in a full time program. Various studies done recently have shown that distance learning programs can be as efficient and valuable as regular classroom programs, sometimes even better.