MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Fayetteville State University - Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA Program

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1 MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Fayetteville State University - Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA Program 9/28/2012 Fayetteville State University Dean Assad Tavakoli

2 MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Submission: Fayetteville State University Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA Fayetteville State University School of Business and Economics Fayetteville State University (FSU) is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina and the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state. Founded in 1867 as the Howard School for the education of African Americans, today FSU serves a growing student body of over 6,300 and ranks among the nation s most diverse campus communities. The School of Business and Economics (SBE), a division of Fayetteville State University, is authorized to grant baccalaureate degrees in business and the Masters of Business Administration degree. FSU began offering Business Administration degrees in The authority of the SBE to grant degrees was expanded during the ensuing years to include additional concentrations, including the MBA degree in Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA Fayetteville State University established North Carolina s first Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA program. This instructional platform has created an innovative learning environment consisting of remote location and local students with FSU faculty and Corporate Partners. Initially launched in 2006, the Integrated Distance Learning and Online program offers a unique curriculum consisting of concentrations in Health Care Management and Project Management, taught by FSU faculty and corporate officers, and it is delivered using state-of-the art teleconferencing technologies that enable distance learning students to be taught in real-time, regardless of their location. FSU s MBA design promises to offer career development opportunities not available through most tradition and online MBA programs. Concept / Initiative In 2005 the Dean of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), along with SBE faculty and other stakeholders, such as Cape Fear Valley Health System, US Army at Fort Bragg, and the US Air Force at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, developed a plan to expand access to the MBA program and to tailor the concentrations of the MBA program to the needs of the health care and military community. The objective was to revitalize and expand the program, both physically and pedagogically, by expanding its concentration in Health Care Management, adding a concentration in Project Management, and by establishing a remote learning centers and internet based educational opportunities to meet the expectations of a mobile community. The Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA began with establishing relations with Corporate and Military Partners and creating remote learning centers in This concept arose due to the demand for MBA classes in remote and military locations, locations that sometimes have limited access to higher business education, and for the need to revamp our program so graduates possess the skill sets required in their respective business and military communities. Many universities have online MBAs, but what is different about our program is that while we have the online component, we have retained the classroom experience through 2

3 live interactive video and class recordings that are totally mobile. Live broadcasts and recorded classes can even be viewed on mobile devices like Smart Phones. 1 FSU is physically located next to Fort Bragg which is one of the largest military communities in the United States. Furthermore, Cape Fear Valley Health System is the largest employer and largest health care facility in Cumberland County, North Carolina. We recognized the need for MBA graduates to possess skill sets that were readily marketable in our local community. Consequently, changes were needed in our curriculum and methods of delivering an MBA to cater to the unique cultures of the military and health care field. Our initiative focuses on two pillars. First, we redesigned our curriculum by consulting with military leaders and health care professionals. Second, we redesigned our mode of delivery to meet the needs of modern students who need flexibility when managing their professional and academic lives and a mode of delivery tailored to mobile military professionals who need stability and continuity when pursuing their MBA degree. Our research regarding the military showed that service members needed a curriculum that was designed for a broad spectrum of military members who are mid-level leaders in their fields. The military is a diverse entity that consists of many unique fields ranging from the infantry to aviation. One common skill set needed amongst military leaders is the need to manage complex projects. Consequently, our program developed a concentration in project management that provides military members, and non-military MBA candidates, the educational foundation to manage complex projects in the military and business community. A secondary issue with the military is that military members regularly move from station to station, and transferring credits from institution to institution can hinder the military members, and their spouses who must also travel, from obtaining their MBA. Consequently, we integrated our classes with advanced teleconferencing equipment and also set up satellite educational sites at Fort Bragg and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The teleconferencing equipment streams all classes on the internet, and also records them, so if a student starts their MBA at our school they are able to finish it with the comfort of still experiencing the class room experience. Our research concerning the health care market showed that there is a shortage of business professionals with the required managerial skill sets needed in modern health care facilities. Consequently, in conjunction with teaming with corporate leaders at CFVHS, we redesigned our curriculum to offer a concentration in Health Care Management. Not only did we redesign our curriculum to cater to the health care field, we developed a partnership with CFVHS and other health care organizations to foster integrative learning. Executives from CFVHS, for example Chief Legal Counsel Lou Patalano, and other medical professionals partner with FSU faculty to co-teach Health Care Management Classes. This collaboration integrates and enriches the learning process by integrating executives with au currant experience with academically qualified FSU faculty to provide an education that is rich with real-world experience and pedagogically sound teaching methodologies. Furthermore, to expand our satellite system of distance learning, we established a remote teaching center physically at CFVHS, complete with our teleconferencing equipment, which allows us to transmit the class room to any student, regardless of their location. 1 Class recordings can be viewed with any device connected to the internet, computers, tablets, and Smart Phones, via 3

4 Process and Execution The implementation of our Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA was completed in 2009 with the adoption of teleconferencing equipment that allows us to stream our classes on any device connected to the internet. In 2009, FSU, in collaboration and partnership with UNC-GA, the Upper Coastal Plain Learning Council and the Gateway Technology Center in Rocky Mount, North Carolina started offering classes via teleconferencing in Rocky Mount. This unique partnership is designed to directly serve a five county region, offering them an in-class experience without having to travel to one of our UNC campus locations. Additionally, we began offering teleconferencing at Cape Fear Valley Health System s educational room and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Classes held on FSU s main campus and at Cape Fear are streamed live and stored on the internet so remote students in other locations can view the class. The adoption of streaming classes on the internet did not come without difficulties. We initially adopted Panopto and the hardware and software cost approximately $50,000 yet technical issues arose with Panopto. There was approximately a 15 second lag between remote centers and the video quality was subpar. Furthermore, faculty complained of the difficulties utilizing Panopto software and student satisfaction was not as high as expected so we reviewed other teleconferencing platforms and adopted LifeSize in the Fall of 2011 at a fixed cost of approximately $150,000. Although the technical glitches with Panopto were an interference the transition from Panopto to LifeSize occurred over the Summer of 2011 which provided an easy and smooth transition. Faculty and FSU IT personnel were trained in the summer and were prepared to go live when the Fall 2011 semester began. LifeSize provided our program with the technological boost required to offer online courses with the look and feel of the traditional classroom experience. LifeSize provides a zero-lag, high quality two-way video and audio stream directly from the instructor s classroom to teleconferencing equipment set up at our remote locations. Distance students can interact live with the FSU faculty, and CFVHS executives, while class is in session. All locations with teleconferencing equipment are recorded which enables distance students to see each other. Furthermore, when the classes are viewed online, users can toggle screens to view the professor, or switch to view students talking at remote centers. All MBA classes are streamed live and stored over the internet and can be accessed on any device that connects to the internet, for example laptops, ipads, and even Smart Phones. This technology is so advanced it has permitted military students station in far away locations such as Korea and Afghanistan to remain in class. Additionally, technologies such as Adobe Connect and Skype are utilized by FSU faculty to interact with distance students while class is in session when these students are not located at our remote locations that possess LifeSize teleconferencing equipment. Outcome and Measurement The results of our transition from a traditional MBA program to an Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA program have shown increased enrollment, increased student satisfaction, and decreased costs for students pursuing the MBA program, while maintaining quality consistent with AACSB accreditation. 4

5 Overall enrollment has increased from Spring 2009 to 2012 from 79 candidates to 109 candidates, a 37 percent increase. Health Care Management enrollment has increased from 7 students to 15 students during the same time period. Enrollment at SJAFB has remained constant with a mean number of 15 students enrolled at that location and enrollment at the Gateway Technology Center has increased from three students to 11. Student satisfaction has also increased. Exit interviews conducted by the Dean of the Business School, Dr. Assad Tavakoli and MBA Director Boris Abbey, and video interviews of students 2 show that students who have obtained their degrees at our satellite sites, and travelling military students, state that utilizing LifeSize teleconferencing equipment is equivalent to sitting in the class room. Air Force and US Army students that were deployed to Afghanistan and sent to the UK and Korea were all able to continue their courses without any delays. Student testimonials are impressive. I am a remote student living in Raleigh, North Carolina and I am impressed with the quality of the education I have received with FSU s distance MBA program. I can view the class live on my computer and as a working professional who has to travel; I also have access on my iphone. I was concerned with taking MBA classes online but this isn t a traditional online program. It is the same as if I am sitting in the classroom. - Samantha Bogard Offering courses at remote locations and via the internet with advanced teleconferencing initially increased our fixed costs, but the marginal cost of delivery has decreased significantly. Consequently we offer distance students discounted tuition which is approximately one-third the cost of the traditional MBA program. This has permitted us to expand our program in an economically efficient manner while increasing student satisfaction because they can pay less for the same level of education. Finally, The School of Business recently passed its AACSB reaccreditation in AACSB officials were impressed with the advanced technological resources available to deliver our program. Furthermore, FSU s Business School is ranked amongst the top 300 Business Schools by Princeton Review and FSU is ranked 63 on the Social Science Research Network. These accomplishments show that our program has expanded and adopted new technologies while maintaining a top level of quality that is consistent with a very small percentage of business schools. 2 Additional video testimonials can be found at: 5

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