A look at the rising popularity of online MBA in India and whether it is credible enough:Posted by Nishatha Abraham on Dec. 4, 2012, 1:15 p.m.
We live in a world that shops online, connects with friends online, pays bills and does banking online. For that matter, some people are known to even have got married online these days! So it should not come as a surprise that the way in which distance education is being imparted also gets redefined. With the internet penetrating into almost every urban home in India and the rapid advances being made in satellite technology, distance education is seeing path-breaking innovations. According to a report by brokerage firm CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, the distance education market in India is expected to grow phenomenally over the next few years. The most visible trend is the sudden surge in popularity of online MBA programs.
In fact, online education and online MBA programs in particular, have gone from being an interesting sideline to a major social and economic trend. According to Dr. Swaminathan K, CEO of myBskool.com - an online B-school, India Inc. will require close to 20 million managers over the next 10 years. “It is a well known fact that there is already an acute shortage for managers at entry and middle level, the demand is only expected to grow exponentially in the years to come. With large MNCs in India and increasing work opportunities, top B schools are not able to provide enough qualified managers to meet the need and are now in the process of making their programs available on an online platform”, says Swaminathan.
Though online MBA education is the most preferred mode of education in the USA and UK, it is at a nascent stage in India. Nevertheless, online management programs are gaining popularity among students, management institutes and companies alike. With increasingly easy access to internet, online education is fast replacing distance education as the most popular means of education among working professionals.
Students going the Online MBA way
Online MBA is finding takers among students because it is flexible and cost- effective. Students who typically go for an online MBA program are working professionals at junior to middle management levels who wish to earn an MBA without quitting their jobs and who are looking to move ahead in their career. An online MBA allows them to conveniently attend classes online and to interact with faculty just like they would in a real classroom – all this at a much lesser cost.
45 year old Francis Xavier, working as Manager (Networks) with Reliance Communications vouches for the benefits of pursuing an online MBA. Francis is pursuing a one year PGDM (executive) from myBskool.com. With no time to attend classes (even over weekends, as would be the case with distance learning programmes), he chose to go for an online MBA programme to help further his career. What Francis likes best about the online MBA programme are the recorded lectures that he can access online anytime and as many times as he wants. Sometimes there are live lectures as well. With exams and assessments every 3 months and facilities to clear doubts/queries over mail or during the live (online) classes, Francis does not feel like he is missing out on anything by pursuing an online management course.
B-schools riding on the Online MBA wave
Management schools/ MBA colleges are increasingly opting to offer online MBA programs because they realize that corporate middle managers who would rather not leave their jobs to attend a full-time MBA program are a vast, untapped market. It is a well known fact that there is already an acute shortage for managers at entry and middle level, the demand is only expected to grow exponentially in the years to come.
B-schools are therefore cashing on this gap and offering online MBA degrees. Gone are the days, especially in the west, when the quality of an online MBA degree was considered dubious. After Harvard & MIT’s venture “EdX” that will offer free online courses to anyone with an internet connection and Stanford’s “Coursera” that pioneered free online courses, the academia is opening up to online education like never before.
Well-known B-schools of India like IIM Calcutta, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Lucknow, XLRI Jamshedpur, IIFT, MICA offer various management programmes/ diplomas/ certificates via onsite learning through the satellite based education and training service initiative by Hughes. Similarly, renowned institutions like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Indore, MDI, IMT Ghaziabad, IGNOU have academic alliances with NIIT Imperia that enables them to deliver various management programmes through a “synchronous learning platform” and an online web-based learning management system.
In the last few years, a host of “online schools” have come up, that are exclusively into offering online courses- management programmes and others. A few among these include Mybskool.com, Edukart.com, Avagmah.com.
Corporate interest in Online MBA on the rise
The main motivation behind companies encouraging their employees to take up online MBA programs is that these MBA programs provide an opportunity to develop managerial skills and expertise in a certain field of work. Companies are also motivated by the fact that online MBA doesn't interfere with the normal course of action and the regular work schedule rather it offers quality content in a self-paced learning environment. An increasing number of companies are providing opportunities or sponsoring their employees to pursue an online MBA programme or related management programmes.
“Many companies are also providing online MBA programs to their employees because they do not have the time and the infrastructure to train their employees. An online MBA helps the industry & corporate to hire & harness the best talent who not only have the required knowledge but also industry experience”, says Ishan Gupta, CEO of Edukart.com.
Anatomy of an Online MBA programme
With advancements in technology, the features of an online course have been changing quite fast. Till a few years ago, “distance education” was in vogue, with regular weekend classes and study materials being posted to students. This was until satellite technology came into play and platforms like Hughes and NIIT Imperia became major players that tied up with B-schools to offer live lectures that students could attend at designated centres across cities.
But now, with the advent and penetration of 3G, broad-band, cost effective tablets and smart phones, students from even smaller cities can go online and access lectures of world class faculty and industry experts. The main features of online MBA programmes nowadays include:
myBskool.com has developed a platform that is fully functional and hosts close to 6000+ audio lessons/podcasts and over 2500 video lectures, numerous case study discussions and skill builders. All these are delivered by eminent faculty from premier institutions in India and practicing managers who are otherwise not accessible by all. Using superior technology, the videos are made available with almost zero buffering for live streaming. Their latest offering on a 3 Screen platform (PC-Tablet-Smart Phone) is the most advanced solution to offer world class management education beyond the barriers of time and distance at affordable price, making the concept of portable class room a reality.
How credible is an online MBA programme?
When traditional brick & mortar b-schools that are renowned for their on-campus MBA programmes jump onto the online MBA bandwagon, it is an obvious indication that things are looking up for online education in India.
For its online MBA, Edukart.com has tied up with with Mahatama Gandhi University, Meghalaya & have their curriculum recognition from the tripartite committee i.e., UGC-AICTE-DEC. They also host regular webinar sessions with IIM alumni. Edukart.com also provides additional Industry Certifications along with the program from bodies like Retailers Association of India, Internet and Mobile Association of India and Association of International Wealth Management India.
myBskool.com has technological collaboration with IMT-CDL (Centre for Distance Learning), Ghaziabad for its one year and two year PGDM for working professionals, on its cloud based, fully interactive social learning platform. While the content for these programmes is given by myBskool.com, the examination and certification is given by IMT Ghaziabad. myBskool.com has also tied up with IIM Ranchi to co-create digital content for the two year Executive management programme.
Such credibility & recognition of these MBA online programmes have resulted in increased acceptance in the industry and popularity among students as well. And numbers speak for themselves- myBskool.com has over 18,000 students totally across different management programmes including its unique offering - the online (free) mini MBA.
In short, online MBA’s popularity can be explained by its offerings – a cost-effective, convenient way to fulfil the dream of a working professional to pursue an MBA from a premier B-school; to access management education being delivered by world-class faculty- by leveraging the power of technology.
Nishatha Abraham Bijeesh