Online learning has captivated millennial managers — they are under increasing pressure to manage global teams from a distance. Just ask Ismail Adewale Salami. He’s studying for a master’s degree in strategic marketing through Arden University, a leading UK online learning provider, but lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
“I did not want to quit working,” says the marketing insight manger with MTN Nigeria, an Africa telecoms group, who has expertise in data analytics (see below).
MBAs are increasingly questioning the tuition and opportunity cost of attending a traditional, campus-based program. “Today’s learners are very demanding and specific about how, when and what they learn. They’re used to having information at their fingertips,” says Paula Reilly, a tutor with RDI.com, which works with a number of leading online programs.
Online learning is cheaper and affords students more flexibility — many continue in full-time work and study in the evenings, or at weekends.
“On-campus degrees can take up too much time for managers and executives, and forces them to leave the office. Online doesn’t,” says Alison Watson, program leader of The Sunderland MBA.
Below, Ismail outlines what it’s like studying from a distance.
Why did you opt for an online degree over a campus-based course?
The decision to opt for an online degree was more of maximizing opportunity. I did not want to quit working and at the same time, I wanted to learn, to enhance my career. If I studied for a traditional degree, I might have to resign and gather funds to achieve it. But the online study eliminated the need to resign and saved funds, which I used to travel and pay tuition.
What are the challenges of studying online?
The challenges attributable with studying online are relative to individuals — there is a rigorous and research-oriented study ability required for anyone to get their assignments and exams completed. Students may need to study alone most of the time, with no peer-review or one-on-one meetings with a tutor. Also, aligning work time with studying can be tedious, especially when the individual is married.
What are the benefits? Is it all about flexibility — did you continue working full-time?
Aside from flexibility, online learning offers the opportunity to pay and study in “pre-paid mode”. You study as and when you can afford to do so.
Can online programs offer the same level of networking as campus programs?
Not really. But with social media, students can still network, but virtually. Personally, most of my course-mates are my friends on LinkedIn and we leverage the medium.