Friday, October 12, 2007

And what about distance learning?

Pure distance learning is like trying to review a restaurant by merely looking at its menu. Despite best intention and sincere effort, you will lose out on the actual experience.

Much of the learnings in an MBA come from student-teacher and peer to peer interaction. You get none of that when you simply order course material and pore over it alone.

Much of the value of an MBA comes from its selection process. While full time MBA admissions are highly competitive and grueling, and even good part time programs apply some selectivity, distance learning course dispatch their courseware to anyone who’ll fork out the cash for it.

The two most popular distance learning programs (apart from IGNOU, which most discount) are offered by Symbiosis Centre of Distance Learning (SCDL) and ICFAI. Students are quite happy with the quality of courseware from both institutes. They’re not happy with its lack of effect on their careers.

Delhi based Jaspreet Chandhok is pursuing a PGDBA (Marketing) from SCDL. A BCA from IP University, he joined BPO Convergys soon after his final sem exams. “Fortunately, I got chances to excel and kept learning lessons of the "Work /Job World", and hence am still sticking in the same organization, “ says Jaspreet. Hungry for a post-grad qualification, he joined SCDL (“considering the hype of Symbiosis”).

He now feels, however, that the course is of absolutely no use. “I did gain knowledge but much of it was pretty basic. One doesn't need to go though books and "online exams" to prove his skills in these areas.”

He’s seen no gains in his career linked to distance learning – and isn’t about it even in the near future. It’s much the same story with Harikrishnan J, an Infosys engineer who completed his “Online MBA” from SCDL 6 months ago.

“The courseware is very good, lucid and manageable for a working person. It has given me good understanding of business concepts”. But job prospects wise - no gains. “ None of my technical work (I work as a Software Engg @ Infosys since 2003) deals with management and hence it hasn't helped me in this regard. And since my company doesn't accept this kind of MBA this course doesn’t help me climb up the coporate ladder yet.”

Try shifting? You can get a higher paying technical job but not a functional role. “Most openings, when advertised, give a disclaimer that Part-Time / Distance MBAs are not considered”. Of course Harikrishnan believes many full time MBAs (leave out IIMs and ISB) are in a similar boat. “I know a guy here who did his MBA from Cardiff Business School UK and came back to Infosys . He is working as a software tester”.

The verdict: Keep a distance from distance learning, from the point of view of impact on earning. Of course, there’s no harm – if you really just want to learn.

first published in March 2007 in Businessworld's Mega Indian Bschool Guide.

also read: The Part time MBA puzzle

23 comments:

  1. The other day, I read your earlier posts on Part time MBA and now this one. I am surely convinced not take these up for sure, specially with the intention of being paid more!!

    Another point on distance learning, it is like completing MCom thru distance education from Mumbai University and of course, your employer does not value it, in any way!! Have learnt it the hard way!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a feeling that people who opt in for distance learning programs mostly look for adding a post graduation to their resumes, and they work side by side and use the knowledge from these courses practically in the respective jobs, at that time, or a later point of time. Agreed, they can not match the exposure regular students get, but it does make sense to go in for a distance learning masters degree while working.
    When we try and compare these degrees to A class institutes, yes there is no comparison, but they are certainly a competition to the "next door colleges" which have become functional these days in punjab and haryana, I am sure about other states though. Working and studying together is, I feel, a much better option that opting in for a regular degree from just any other institute.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do agree with Sam relan, but not full in agreement with Rashmi.Ofcousrse the other 2 methods do have a uppper hand when compared to distance learning.

    Personally I feel, MBA is just a mere addition to your qualifications, to illustrate this, we can the cases of Mr.Bill Gates and Mr.Dhirubhai Ambani.

    So guys no harm in taking up Distance Learning if you have no other option & distance learning from a reputed institution,like Welingars or Symbi etc is any time better then a regular MBA from a D grade college...

    ReplyDelete
  4. liked analogy of looking @ menu part .. in the same vein 'executive' MBAs will be like ordering home-delivery/take outs
    Where you wont be able to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant and dont exactly get the best personal attention ... but still get to eat food !

    Would love to see an article about these 'executive' MBA programmes( weekend/evening classes) also from you.

    Was able to relate to the examples you had cited as i had also worked in the software industry (Infy) before embarking on 'full-time' MBA.
    I know a lot of ppl (including the one mentioned in ur article )who were doing their MBA from Symbi and IGNOU ...
    Many of them gave up in between to concentrate on other certifications in technical line as they percieved them to be of more value add in moving up in life.
    A Few others chose to take up executive courses like the software management course conducted @ IIM B (excecutive one) while continuing to work.
    With increasing no: of working professionals looking at higher education , many of them looking at upgrading their skill set without giving up their current job , executive MBAs should really pick-up rather than correspondence ones.

    ReplyDelete
  5. your "verdict" on the distance learning program sounds general where as it actually is only in reference to MBA.

    MBA or BE definitely is not useful as distance learnt degree because they are more about practicality and hands on approach. But, economicas of phychology would not be equally useles as a degree earnt through similar distance learning course. Ofcourse even in that case classroom course is better, but that may not be always feasible.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are always just right at the point in analyzing topics..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gee....that's me in the post :-)
    And btw I have now left the job & joined one of top 10 univs in US after fretting for a year abt. my "part time degree"....maybe others should follow suit.

    Harikrishnan J

    ReplyDelete
  8. hello i like youre blog

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Pure distance learning is like trying to review a restaurant by merely looking at its menu".......

    That line is very apt....but some restaurants can be reviewed by looking at the menu. Similarly distance learning is a good option for some degrees but not for some example, MBA where class participation and networking play a big role

    ReplyDelete
  10. I dont know about MBA but distance learning definitely helped me in "earning" well after I completed a Diploma in Instructional Design from SCDL. The courseware, no doubt, was fantastic. And we had projects to complete which helped us to interact with our peers. Now-a-days a lot of emphasis is laid on full-time MBA and the institute from where one graduates eliminating the emphasis on other skill-sets.

    ReplyDelete
  11. hey nice blog
    ..
    wrote some lines about them on my blogs
    do chek it out
    tshharmangalmuses.blogspot.com/2007/10/voyaging-through-blogosphere-16
    Thank You

    ReplyDelete
  12. Woohoo..!! That sounds like me..! :P Thanks for bringing my view out to the whole world. Hope this brings some lights to the others mindset.
    I'm still climbing up the ladder in my organization, practically much without the help or name of this PGDBA in my resume'.
    Thanks again, and take care.!

    One of your many fans,
    Jaspreet. (",)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice going here... good articles.... this one is especially good.. i mean the MBA post... will check the freq... adios

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have seen people get enthusiastic about distance education MBA. they do not focus on it from then onwards and the whole money ends up being wasted.

    I strongly believe that a person who wants to do a thorough MBA should do it full time from a reputed institution.


    cheers
    vivek
    http://aavaas.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. nice article again frm rashmi. valid views , totally agreed. however would like to bring to notice abt steps taken by icfai to bridge this gap among "can do" and "cant do guys" .

    firstly icfai degree doesnt mention distance learning ! thy get the same degree as we fulltime students do. so tht does help in career process though its use is debatable as it may(is) misused.

    secondly with icfai its not really distance learning - u attend weekend classes, online interface is thr too.

    thirdly like a regular mba even distance learning chaps can opt for a summer internship ! yeah thts right

    and laslty like the regular candidates these chaps too can avail of placements services with a assured placement of min 20k

    so u see the icfai mba is priced double of Symbi...smbi is just giving u books n a certificate.its actually not of much use in the corporate world. as rightly said even icici bank recruitment form mentions to tick if ur degree is classroom or correspondence.

    so the icfai degree isnt correspondence per se...its a mix provided one utilises it..

    p.s - this no promotion of icfai, just thought to bring to attention how icfai has been somewht successful in helping the distance learning chaps get a decent proposition

    ReplyDelete
  16. hi
    this is relay good info
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi nice blog .I need to post resumes .can anybody send links of that sites.
    Thank you.........

    ReplyDelete
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