Online MBA Boot Camp Provides Sustainable Competitive Advantage in 12-week Trimester

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1 Online MBA Boot Camp Provides Sustainable Competitive Advantage in 12-week Trimester Hamid Khan, BSME, MSIE, MBA, EDD, PE Professor of Management Our Lady of the Lake University Introduction This paper discusses the efficacy of taking a hybrid course and moving it to a completely online format. The course is titled BADM 6600 or Fundamentals of Business Administration (or The MBA Boot Camp). We used two premises for the expediency of design and development: (1) migrate all of the material to an online course using Blackboard/WebCT and (2) develop the course in one year using Project Management software and methodologies to facilitate the migration. The six-in-one course covers: Management, Business law, Economics, Accounting, Finance and Statistics) serving as an integrated prerequisite course for students lacking an undergraduate business degree. Each module was put online individually, tested and then integrated into one course. The time spent in designing the course from scope definition to implementation was monitored by the Project Management software. This paper describes the content design, project management controls and results to date. Background BADM 6600 Fundamentals of Business Administration is a leveling course for non-business majors. Working professionals who do not have a degree in business and who want to get an MBA are faced with taking 18 or more hours of undergraduate business classes as prerequisites to entering an MBA program at most universities. For prospective students, this translates into additional cost and time. The School of Business and Leadership at OLLU developed this course to address these hurdles and deterrents to entering an MBA program. By successfully passing the requirements for this class, students enter OLLU s MBA program by taking just one class. This provides a fast track into the MBA program for non-business majors. Design of the Boot Camp When the course was first offered in 2003, the initial format for the class was the hybrid format. Two of the six topics were covered in face-to-face classroom settings (Management and Business Law & Ethics). The face-to-face meetings were each, 1 day per topic. The students were required to have read all of the assigned material prior to coming to the class. During the 8-hour class, a professor would lecture and lead discussions on highlights from the assigned readings. An exam was given at the end of the day over the material. The other four topics (Economics, Accounting, Finance, and Statistics) were done in an online format using MBA Primer (Thomson Southwestern). Students would take quizzes and then an exam for each topic. MBA Primer is a self-paced format. There were several reasons for changing format. First, it was author s opinion that the hybrid format was not conducive to tracking and monitoring student performance. Second, it did not provide enough opportunity for interaction between students and the instructor. Third, the responsibility for learning rested solely with the student. Finally, it was difficult to assess with any degree of certainty how much the student had learned. Therefore, the authors redesigned the course as a completely online course using Blackboard/WebCT as the online platform. Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 1

2 Leveling courses are foundation courses. Meaning they are courses that all undergraduate business students would take. They typically cover the introductory concepts, theories, and terminology of the respective subjects that students will need for upper-level classes. Subject matter experts (SME) within OLLU s School of Business and Leadership were identified for each of the six topics. The SMEs were asked to identify the undergraduate textbook used for each subject. They further were asked to identify the required chapters that should be covered in each textbook that would provide students with a good foundation in the subject area. Armed with this information and having obtained the textbooks and the supplemental materials, the course was constructed by adapting a methodology the authors learned from a presentation by Gordon Hodge from the University of New Mexico (UNM). The UNM redesigned General Psychology, the largest and most popular undergraduate course, through a grant from the Center for Academic Transformation (Hodge). It was determined that the sequence of the six topics would be Management, Business Law & Ethics, Economics, Accounting, Finance, and Statistics. The Test Banks for each textbook were loaded into Blackboard/WebCT through the use of Respondus. Each chapter had a test bank of questions. In addition a combined test bank was compiled by using all of the questions from each chapter. Students move through the course in two-week increments. In other words, everyone works on Management, then Business Law and so on. Students are required to take a minimum of three quizzes on each assigned chapter. However, they are encouraged to take as many quizzes as they like. The 10-question quizzes are randomly generated from the respective chapter test banks. So they will not be getting the same quiz each time. Why would a student want to take more than three quizzes on each chapter? Simple, the 100- question final exam is randomly generated from the combined test bank. Therefore, the more quizzes a student takes the higher the probability the student will have seen most, if not all, of the questions on the final. Students read an assigned chapter and then take multiple quizzes. According to the results of the UNM program, the repetition results in a higher retention of the information (Hodge). The more quizzes they take the more prepared they are for the Final Exam. Our results substantiate the results found by Hodge in the UNM effort. Like the course itself, the grading in the course is quite different. Each of the six topical areas is independent of the others. In order to be admitted into the MBA program, without conditions, a student must pass each of the six areas. A final exam is given in each area. The final grade in each area is now determined by using the quiz scores and exam in each area. The quizzes count 25% and the final exam counts 75% toward the final grade for each area. The three highest quizzes for each chapter are averaged. Students have an opportunity to take the final exam in each area twice with the higher of the two grades counting toward the final grade in that area. Students must receive a 70% or higher final grade in order to pass the area. This format allows the instructor to monitor progress very easily. An instructor can observe quiz scores and intervene if a student is getting consistently low quiz scores. Also, the course was set up to have a discussion area for each topic. Therefore, students can post questions concerning the material or questions concerning quizzes in the discussion area. Students can also interact with the instructor and other students through . Once the design and framework for the online format was completed, a project plan was developed in PM software to ensure development was completed in time. Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 2

3 Table 1. Activity Matrix Plan Use of Project Management Software for Project Planning Activity Description Preceding Activity Activity In Days A Graduate School Approval None 5 B Course construction Plans A 15 C Projected Students Study A 10 D Lead Faculty Availability Check A 5 The Platform faculty E Internal Feasibility Report B, C 15 F VPAA/EVP Approvals B, C, D 10 G Design of Individual Modules F 170 H Publish on Blackboard/ Dry Run E, G 35 Figure 1. Activity on Node (AON) Diagram Using the original estimates for the activities, the expected date of completion of the critical path resulted in ( ) = 245 days. In order to find the probability this project would be finished on or before the December 31 deadline or in 235 working days, we need to determine the area under the normal curve, where the standard equation can be applied as follows: Variance and Standard Deviation was calculated in order to determine Z. Where, Z = (Due date Expected date of completion)/ Standard deviation = ( )/ 10.2 = -.98 where Z is the number of standard deviations the due date or the target date lies from the expected date (to the left of the mean). Referring to the normal table we find a probability of success is or 33.6%. Therefore the probability the project would be completed on or before December 31 was doubtful. Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 3

4 Table 2. Revised Activity Matrix Plan Activity Description Preceding Activity Activity Time (days) A Graduate School Approval None 4 B Course construction Plans A 12 C Projected Students Study A 8 D Lead Faculty Availability Check A 4 The Platform faculty E Internal Feasibility Report B, C 12 F VPAA/EVP Approvals B, C, D 8 G Design of Individual Modules F 140 H Publish on Blackboard/ Dry Run E, G 20 The activity times were revised as shown in Table II. Recalculating the expected date of completion in the critical path is ( ) = days. Z was also recalculated with the revised numbers as: Z = (Due date Expected date of completion)/ Standard deviation = ( )/ = Referring to the normal table we find a probability of success is or 99.8%. The resulting probability was a great predictor of project completion success. The project was in fact completed in time and published in Blackboard before the year end and was successfully delivered on line the following spring semester and every semester afterward. Figure 2. An example ECON Module Online Grade Book Results of the on line Boot Camp The result of this innovative course has demonstrated that prospective students see the value in the MBA Boot camp program. Since going to the online format, faculty have observed an improvement in student readiness for the MBA program. The success rate has been in the upward direction consistently over each semester. Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 4

5 Table 3. Continuous Improvement Table of Student Pass Rate Subject Area TRI I 2005 TRI II 2006 TRI III 2006 TRI III 2007 TRI II 2009 Management Business Law Economics Accounting Finance Statistics Conclusion Three conclusions may be drawn from the design, development and implementation experience (ai) that MBA program entrants may gain tremendously by saving time enjoying the integration of leveling courses by a six-in-one umbrella course,(b) that such course can be effectively run on line without compromising on quality, and (c) that design lead time should be controlled strictly by a project management software to make the planning effective, which is the hallmark of this course s effectiveness. All these considerations make the adventure worthwhile for developing and enjoying a competitive advantage in the MBA program. References Draves, W. A. (2002) Teaching online, Learning Resource Network (LERN) Books. Gray, C. (2008). Project management: The managerial process, Boston: McGraw Hill. Heizer, J., & Render, B. (2001). Operations management, 6e, Prentice Hall Kerzner, H. (2005) Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling and controlling, 6e. Van Nostrand Reinhold Ko, S., & Rossen S. (2001). Teaching online: A practical guide. Houghton Miffin. Author Summary Hamid Khan is a Professor of Management at Our Lady of the Lake University. He teaches this popular six-in-one on-line self paced management boot camp course, which makes the MBA program competitive by conserving faculty resources and giving more benefits to students. Students in large numbers complete all leveling courses in one semester rather than a year, which proves the point that on-line modular courses can be more desirable than face to face classes. Address: Our Lady of the Lake University 411 SW 24 th Street Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 5

6 San Antonio, TX URL: Phone: ext 2561 Fax: Copyright 2009 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 6

Online MBA Boot Camp Provides Sustainable Competitive Advantage in 12-week Trimester

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