Downing has more than 25 years’ experience in post-secondary education, serving at senior administrative levels at several institutions, including private, community college and university campuses. She has spent the last 16 years launching online schools and programs, overseeing the design and development of academic, administrative and student services in a virtual environment. She has also served as senior online faculty and curriculum development specialist for several colleges and universities and as a private consultant for specialized degree programs.
Her research focus is the transition of faculty from the traditional classroom to online and hybrid instruction, and she has done national presentations on this. She has been active in e-Learning groups and holds a Ph.D. in instructional design for online learning. The W. P. Carey School’s online MBA program is among only 14 listed on U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever “Honor Roll” for online graduate business programs.
- Know what you want out of an online MBA. Setting goals about what you want to learn from an online MBA – from gaining a global perspective, to working with other professionals, to using technology as a main form of communication — can aid in how you progress through a program. This focus can afford you an opportunity to learn more from the faculty members and your global classmates, as well as help immerse you in online resources to gain expertise and knowledge. Take advantage of having the world available on the Internet to expand your classroom and gain valuable knowledge in key areas that interest you.
- Understand your online learning style. When you return to school, it is often difficult to get into the practice of reading, studying and working with teammates, particularly when all activities are conducted online and not at a physical location. It can be especially complicated if you’re unaware of your online learning style – visual, audio, tactile – and how that will impact your progression. For example, audio learners find that listening takes less time than watching a video, which they may need to review multiple times. Each time you gain access to a class, look at how materials are presented, types of deadlines listed, and your other weekly obligations. Work to stick to your weekly schedule, spending the time needed on materials that require more effort and working quickly through those that meet your learning style. Thinking through the process ahead of time will help you learn more rapidly and assist in retaining information.
- Use the Internet to your advantage. Many faculty members will provide supplemental materials or websites that complement the regular weekly assignments. This information provides additional opportunities to learn and view examples of how theory meets application in the real world. Make time to review materials and look for patterns in situations and daily news that mirror lessons in your weekly classes. If your class has a posting area, then share articles and instances for richer discussions and to see others’ perspectives. Use the Internet for opportunities to recognize and understand how professionals are applying it to situations.
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets