How Tech Is Changing EMBA Programs

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University

What they’re doing: The EMBA program at Georgetown is in the middle of transitioning 25% of its courses to an asynchronous model. Paul Almeida, senior associate dean for executive education, says that one of the most important questions they faced when conceptualizing the program changes was balancing technology with face-to-face interaction.

“If I’m teaching a course, and there are 16 classes, then I put four of them online,” Almeida says. “We don’t want to lose the face-to-face aspect and discussions, so I think 25% is a good balance.” At the moment, roughly one-fourth of the EMBA courses are 25% online – Georgetown plans to put three-fourths of the courses 25% online over the next year. The slow transition gives professors time to create online lectures and allows for student feedback, Almeida says.

He adds that in the past, online courses were seen as unsophisticated and a poor substitute for traditional classrooms. “We’ve always used some tech – videos and simulations, for example – but we want to take it to the next level so we can explore online capabilities now. The idea is not to save money, but to give students a better lesson. “The professors spend a long time preparing – they think of every question that the students might ask.”

Predictions for the future: Almeida believes that tech is going to play a bigger role in education soon, and that there will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons, allowing students to move through the program at different paces.

“Tech will come to dominate eventually and will force universities to adjust what we’ve been doing for years,” he says. “It’s very exciting developing these programs.”

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