The idea is not to replace traditional programmes
but to support them
By Asad Hameed
Executive Education and Development
Mar 18 - 24, 2002
The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
has recently launched its Executive MBA programme to blend-in Distance
Learning tools with the case-based learning in which the University
excels. The need for an Executive MBA was apparent for sometime in
Pakistan, as it provides mid-career managers to acquire new skills
required to move to the top-level management. The LUMS Executive MBA
structure has been developed to allow the managers to acquire these
skills without career disruption.
Distance Learning will play an integral role in
imparting the business education in the LUMS Executive MBA. A number
of tools will be used to supplement traditional learning. These
include, online interactive tutorials, supervised discussions through
IRC, computer conferencing and project.
Distance Learning has become the focus of a great
deal of attention in higher education especially in business education
circles in the past few years. The increased need for a skilled
workforce coupled with rapid changes in the business environment
globally has forced organisations to look for business courses of
short and medium duration delivered over the internet.
The term Distance Learning is often interchanged
with Distance Education. However, this is not correct since
institutions/instructors control educational delivery while the
students or participants are responsible for learning. In other words,
Distance Learning is the result of Distance Education. Before we
clarify the need for Distance Learning in the context of Business
Education, it is imperative to first define it.
Distance Learning is instructional delivery that
does not constrain the students or participants to be physically
present in the same location as the instructor. Historically, Distance
Learning meant correspondence study. Today, audio, video and computer
technologies are more common delivery modes.
There are a number of important factors that
influence organisations to invest in their workforce so that they can
acquire new skills and tools. Employees now need these tools faster
and at different locations all over the globe.
First there is a need for organisations to explore
new ways and means to complement traditional learning methods with
more technology-driven methods. The idea is not to replace traditional
programmes but to support them. Therefore, the need to develop strong
and value-added partnerships with Universities has become very
important for organisations.
Second, executives cannot afford to spend time on
traditional residential programmes because of their heavy work
commitments. Time has become a major constraint for managers and it is
increasingly difficult to arrange programmes based on traditional
models of learning. Third, the need for Universities to become more
productive and efficient compels them to leverage their intellectual
resources more effectively. This is especially true for developing
countries such as Pakistan where the resource base is already thin.
Fourth, the changes in requirements has made the
market for business education increasingly competitive as more and
more executives are opting to hire coaches and consultants. The
executives want the Business Schools to carry out more of a
consultative/coaching role rather than a teaching role.
The Distance Learning provides an excellent
alternative to meet the above-mentioned needs. It is not Distance
Learning as we know it today, but real-time, on-line coaching before,
during and after the course.