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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Online University in a Box

Here is an interesting concept and one that I think will catch on.

UNC's Kenan-Flagler School of Business has recently begun offering a new e-Learning certificate program titled Business Essentials. Avalon Consulting developed the program in conjunction with UNC based on Avalon's "University in a Box." Check it out... UNC Business Essentials Certificate Program

The program:
“UNC Business Essentials allows the non-business major to become fluent in the language of business to stand out in an interview with a company, make a more meaningful impact in a non-profit or start their own business or organization,” says Susan Cates, associate dean of UNC Executive Development at Kenan-Flagler. “The program is a must-have for students and recent graduates who need to build their real-world relevant business knowledge and add a valuable credential to help distinguish them in the job market.”
You can read the entire article at UNC Executive Development at Kenan-Flagler Business School Launches Innovative Online Business Program with e-Learning Assistance of Avalon Consulting, LLC

Our aim in implementing our Online University in a Box program with Susan Cates, president of UNC Executive Development at Kenan-Flagler Business School, and her team was to instill in them the idea that putting together their "Business Essentials" program was more than just a focus on the content. There's no doubt that the quality content is important, however, ensuring the long term success of the program requires an equal emphasis on a number of key factors impacting sustainability. Establishing appropriate standards, carefully evaluating existing content to ensure it's compatible with e-Learning delivery methods, establishing a consistent and repeatable workflow and addressing key program management considerations all have an impact on long-term program success. All of these are addressed in the Online University in a Box program.

I really like the concept of sustainability of content and making sure that the content is compatible with e-Learning.

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Ashley R. said...

The concept of the new UNC Business Essentials program addresses a valid need giving non-business majors access to abbreviated training that will give them the foundational knowledge and skills needed to enter the business / corporate environment.
Content areas include: an introduction to business, financial accounting, economics and finance, marketing, business operations, and business communications. This eLearning certificate program is designed to allow students to complete the entire program in 60 hours, 10 hours per topical area, and gives them the flexibility to complete the courses at their own pace, providing all courses and related activities are completed within a 4-month timeframe.

With a background in education, health and physical education at that, I personally found it somewhat challenging to enter the corporate environment, as I lacked a general understanding of the various business concepts noted above. I hadn’t even taken a statistics course during my undergraduate studies and I would have loved the opportunity to participate in formalized training similar to the Business Essentials program prior to entering the corporate environment.

I will admit that I was a little taken aback by the $3,200 price tag of the Business Essential program, particularly since it sounds like students entering this program will not qualify for financial aid. That said, I imagine many recent graduates would not be able to enroll in the program simply due to the financial commitment. As a full-time employee in the corporate environment who would still benefit from the program, I would need to carefully consider my options if I were to spend $3,000 to study basic business concepts. It seems quite costly for a program that does not grant students continuing education credits, undergraduate, or graduate credits upon successful completion of the program.

Anonymous said...

This seems like a very interesting option for students who have not had the opportunity to take advantage of an internship or other scholastic experience to assimilate the practices of corporate culture. Of course the website takes such pains to paint a bright picture of the program that’s only to be expected. I find myself wondering about the value of the program in the context of formal continuing education, given that the program does not award academic credits. While I imagine that such is a tertiary concern at best for UNC Business Essentials, who appear to be more focused on providing a cliff notes version of the material covered in the classes comprising a business minor as opposed to illuminating the more esoteric concepts of business theory, as a student, it is worth determining which is really the better long term option when considering whether to engage them or a more traditional academic institution. This becomes an even more obvious concern given the points illustrated in the preceding comment, in particular regarding the unavailability of student aid.

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