IE Business School Online Masters
Patrick Engelhardt
May 10, 2009

Hello everyone,

As my colleague Julian already mentioned, we are just about to finish our first online period in the IXMBA. So I would like to make a few comments and reflexions about the online classroom, as it constitutes the main part of the program. For the 7 main courses we had during the past 6 months, there were 55 online sessions in total. Every student is supposed to make between 3 and 5 postings a week, answering questions from the professor and commenting answers from his fellow students.

I just finished counting, this made us to read 9871 !!! postings in total for the first part. May sound crazy, yes, sometimes it is, but most of the time it is great fun and you learn a lot from your colleagues.

Did I read all of them? Of course yes … let’s be honest … no surely I missed a few. Sometimes you keep a few messages to read on the weekend, well wishful thinking, you are already engaged in the homework for the next session and you are no longer able to consider them.

What is important about class discussion from my experience? Never start late, if you enter the blackboard only on Thursday, (online sessions generally are open between Tuesday and Friday),  you are lost. You have to catch up reading a few hundred postings and unless you don’t show up at work that day, that’s not possible. I did it a few times, and believe me, you have a nicer sleep during the whole week when you start making a few postings on the first day.

We were told to respect a 5 lines limit for each posting, this is quite important, remember 9871 contributions to read and in some cases to comment, nobody wants to read half a page. Pictures and cartoons are great (thanks Jorge!), small fonts or large fonts are not very sexy as you get even more tired reading the postings, so after some months you make the decision to not read them at all.

What is amazing about the virtual classroom is that while reading the postings you imagine the professor and the students. As we saw each other during 2 weeks in Madrid, we know what we look like and how we speak, so you have that picture in your mind while following the class discussions.

The most important thing about a virtual class is the feedback. It is really essential to take reference to your colleagues in your postings, they will appreciate. Imagine a real class room, you make a comment, the professor looks at you, turns around, doesn’t say anything and moves forward, no reaction either from the other students, well I would feel awkward. The same applies to the virtual world; it is very stimulating and motivating to get feedback. This is also an advice I would give to the professors (if I may ;-)), the IXMBA is a tough and long road, a bit like a marathon in the Alps, and getting at various times some appropriate feedback, is a bit like passing a cheering point in a marathon, it gives you this little, yet so important energy push.

So, that’s all for now out of the virtual world, my next post will be about the real Shanghai in a few weeks.

Patrick


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