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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

A Strategic and Experiential Approach to MBA Education Enabled by Online Learning

Kristen A Sosulski (New York University, Stern School of Business, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 1:30pm
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Blended Program/Degree
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 7

This paper and presentation is a strategic approach to using online learning to enable experiential learning in the field for MBA students

Extended Abstract

This paper describes the design of an experiential approach to teaching operations management (OM) at New York University Stern School of Business. OM students study the design and management of processes that transform inputs into finished goods or services. The course discussed in this paper is unique in that students learn operations while inside real companies and organizations. Students spend little time in a traditional classroom setting. Instead, they use New York City and its environs as a classroom to observe and experience operations in practice. Students witness the OM processes of real companies through direct onsite observation and discussions with field experts, professionals, and their peers. This approach was inspired and informed by a desire to have students deepen their understandings and learn about the importance of effective operations management to business.

OM is a core course in the full-time MBA curriculum, taught over a 12-week period with weekly 3-hour class meetings. Our desire to move away from classroom teaching and offer an experiential learning course in OM required a complete course redesign. To realize our vision of learning from inside companies, we developed online learning lessons to help ground students in the foundational knowledge of the field. However, it was clear that "knowledge cannot be handed over as if it were the intellectual equivalent of a bag of groceries to be delivered, or a message to be transmitted and received over the Internet" (Wells, 2001, p. 175). We needed a strategy and structure to encourage students to engage with the introductory online lessons prior to applying their knowledge to real contexts beyond the classroom. This involved changing our roles from lecturers to facilitators. The redesign with the online lessons placed students, rather than instructors, at the center of the learning.

Using online lessons gave us the freedom to create an authentic learning experience in OM that provided students with opportunities to construct their own understanding of OM through the following: (1) experiencing OM in context,
(2) engaging in authentic practices in OM within a community of peers (i.e., their classmates), experts (i.e., the course faculty members), and professionals (i.e., business executives in OM roles), and (3) developing a deeper understanding of OM and its relevance to every business.

In this paper, we present how we used theory and practice to redesign the OM course followed by a discussion of the course redesign process. The new components of the course are presented. We discuss the ways in which the online lessons were designed to support student learning and promote engagement throughout the course. We also share our results and reflections on using the online learning materials to enable experiential learning.

Lead Presenter

Kristen Sosulski is an Associate Professor of Information Systems and the director of the education for the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab at at New York University's Stern School of Business. Professor Sosulski received her doctorate in Communications, Computing, and Technology in Education from Columbia University. Her B.S. is from NYU Stern School of Business in Information Systems. She teaches MBA and executive courses in data visualization, R programming, and operations management. Her passion for technology and learning sciences has led her to a career as an information systems professor in a business school who develops innovative practices for higher education.

Professor Sosulski is the co-author of the Essentials of Online Course Design: A standards-based guide (Routledge, 2011, second edition, Routledge, 2015) and the Savvy Student’s Guide to Online Learning (Routledge, 2013).

Professor Sosulski’s research, and practice focus is on technological progress in education. Her specific area of expertise is online education and educational technology.