A discussion with IMBA Director, Mary Ann McGrath
Why did Quinlan decide to develop the Intercontinental MBA program?
One of our major initiatives within the Quinlan School is related to emerging markets. These areas are important links within our global economy, yet the specifics of their cultures and unique ways of doing business are less understood or studied than traditional Western economies. In the long run, however, savvy business persons who understand and can effectively interact within these emerging markets will hold a distinct advantage.
How do your background and research interests align with the program?
My academic research is in the area of Consumer Behavior. I have always been interested in what people do and why they do it, both in the United States and in myriad international locations I have been privileged to visit. During 2008-2010 I lived in Shanghai, China, where I taught MBA students at a Chinese Business School. The student body was from China, other Asian countries, Europe and North America. In addition to broadening my teaching expertise through interactions with this diverse student population, I was also able to expand my research to better understand Asian consumer behavior.
The structure of the program is unique. What benefits do you see to completing part of the program online?
Online learning offers the benefits of flexibility of both location and time, but also instant feedback. A student can never be “stuck”, as the student is part of an online community. Teachers and students work collaboratively toward learning goals and deliverables. The IMBA program may be considered a “blended” model, since we hold face-to-face meetings during our 3-week residencies in Chicago, New York, Santiago, Chile, Johannesburg, South Africa and Beijing, China. This makes our on-line interactions more personal and our relationships closer due to our shared experiences.
What misconceptions do students have about online learning?
Often students think of online learning as a correspondence course in which they work alone at their own pace and on their own time schedule. They may not realize that classes convene at specific times and students work together on various projects. There are “off-line” or “asynchronous” portions of each class which are posted on Blackboard that students can accomplish on their own schedule and at their own pace. But we also incorporate “on-line” or “synchronous” meetings through a software called Adobe Connect. It is easy to understand and manipulate. Through it we create a virtual classroom, complete with group break-out rooms, where students can meet, present and discuss course material.
What sort of technology is necessary to participate in the online courses?
For synchronous class sessions, Adobe Connect was adopted by Loyola University Chicago. It allows for flexibility in delivering rich content including streaming audio, video, and slide show presentations. The application also offers many tools for collaboration such as whiteboarding, document sharing, and live polling. Students do not have to acquire this program. Your teacher will send you a link to your virtual classroom.
To use Adobe Connect, the student requires an Internet connection, a web browser, and Adobe Flash Player 10.1 or later. The web-based platform supports nearly any operating system including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris; as well as the most widely used browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. A webcam and microphone are also strongly recommended for participation in class meetings. The first time a student signs onto a class meeting, the Adobe system will run a test tool and suggest any updates needed for effective participation.
How will the online courses be incorporated into the in-person courses?
All of the courses in the Intercontinental MBA Program will have an online component. Many will be completely online, while others will have class meetings at the point of our residencies. Our first residency will be in Chicago during August, so students will have the opportunity to begin their courses in a traditional classroom environment, as well as learn the Adobe Connect and Blackboard software. In addition, students will meet each other, learn about the Quinlan School and register with and meet the staff of the Business Career Services Center.
What are you most looking forward to with the new program?
In addition to international travel and exploration, I truly love introducing these experiences to those for whom these are new. The dynamic business and political environment allows for constant learning, which I really enjoy. Sharing this with bright, motivated business students is truly a wonderful process.
Loyola's Quinlan School of Business is committed to educating responsible leaders who can strengthen our global business system. Apply now or request more information about our international MBA experience.