Applying an Instructor-Led, Cohort-Based Model to Corporate Online Learning

Author Information
Author(s): 
John Sener
Author(s): 
The Sloan Consortium
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
FCIB/Michigan State University Global
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

FCIB, an association of executives in finance, credit, and international business, and Michigan State University Global (MSU Global) recently formed an innovative partnership to create a new online certification program in international credit and risk management.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

How this practice supports access: In 2002, FCIB, an association of executives in finance, credit, and international business, and Michigan State University Global (MSU Global) formed an innovative partnership to create a new online certification program in international credit and risk management. The program uses an asynchronous instructor-led cohort-based learning model -- a relatively common online learning approach in higher education but still very rare in the corporate/association/non-profit sectors. FCIB recognized that its strongest membership benefits were its face-to-face education program offerings and its facilitation of professional networking opportunities. They wanted to deliver an online education that offered small-group training while generating revenue for the organization. However, they recognized that they did not have the in-house expertise to build their own effective online-learning model. When the U.S. Department of Commerce's Market Development Cooperator Program awarded a grant to FCIB to create an online course and certification program in the area of international credit and risk management (ICRM), FCIB turned to MSU Global to provide the expertise necessary to build the online ICRM Certification Program, which consists of a basic preparation course and a certification exam. A needs analysis determined that giving the students the opportunity to interact and learn from each other's professional expertise, and to form professional relationships with each other were the most valued elements in the desired learning experience. Using an instructor-led, cohort/learning community course design model provides learners with maximum opportunities to access these elements of the learning experience.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The 13-week FCIB certification course has been filled to capacity for each of the three times it has been offered since May 2003. So far [May 2004] over 200 professionals have enrolled in the course from all over the world. Participant evaluations thus far have indicated high levels of perceived learning and satisfaction. The course has a completion rate of over 80%, which is unusual for online courses in the corporate sector. All course completers have also successfully passed the FCIB certification exam.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

High -- The effort was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Market Development Cooperator Program (see above). FCIB currently [May 2004] charges $850 for FCIB members, $990 for NACM (National Association of Credit Managers, FCIB's parent association), and $1,500 for non-members.

References, supporting documents: 

"Collaboration Between Association of Business Executives and MSU Global Brings Successful Non-Traditional Online-Learning Approach to Corporate Environments," Educational Pathways, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 15, 2004. Abstract retrieved March 2, 2004 at http://www.edpath.com [subscription required to access article]

Other Comments: 

The MSU-FCIB ICRM course is a pioneering example of applying a design model frequently used in higher education in the corporate sector. Online learning delivery surveys (e.g., Training magazine's 2003 survey) do not even list this type of delivery as a survey category. As successful examples such as this one become more commonplace and well-known, however, the use of this model is likely to spread significantly in the corporate/non-profit sectors IMO. -- js [Disclaimer: I provided instructional design support services to MSU Global for this project as a paid consultant. John Sener, 5/6/04]

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Ken Garrison, President & Chief Operating Officer, Finance, Credit, and International Business (FCIB), Columbia, MD. Tel: 410/423-1840 Fax: 410/423-1845
Email this contact: 
keng@fcibglobal.com