Jenkins MBA Program Debuts Hybrid Courses With “PACKed Saturdays”
The Jenkins MBA program is introducing hybrid courses this fall to expand networking opportunities and increase flexibility for online students.
Starting this fall, the Jenkins MBA program will launch a hybrid course format to enhance the MBA experience for online students. Integrating online instruction and in-person learning, the format will create more opportunities for group work and networking while retaining the flexibility of a traditional online class.
In the new hybrid format, 16-week courses will feature four in-person sessions on campus – one Saturday per month – in order to increase engagement and enrich learning. Called “PACKed Saturdays,” the sessions allow students to interact more deeply with course content, make valuable in-person connections and enjoy face-to-face time with faculty and peers. The remainder of the course content will be delivered online.
Vikas Anand, associate dean for Poole College of Management’s academic programs and professor of management, innovation and entrepreneurship, notes that the course format is ideal for students who want the advantages of in-person learning but need the flexibility of an online program.
“We have some students who live three to four hours away from campus, and while they’d love to be face-to-face, coming to campus every week just isn’t feasible for them – but they can make it to campus one Saturday a month. So, this course format provides them with the best of both worlds,” Anand explains.
We’re committed to making sure that whatever choice students make, they have a great learning experience.
With nearly 15 years of experience teaching courses in the hybrid format, Anand notes that it allows for real-time integration and generates richer dialogue. He recalls a case study he taught on Mattel’s recall of children’s toys due to excessive levels of lead in the toys’ paint – and says that the hybrid format lended itself well to an interesting discussion.
“My students brought very diverse experiences and perspectives to our discussion. One student shared, ‘When this was happening, I was working for a paint manufacturer in China. This is my perspective.’ Another student raised his hand and said, ‘I was working for Walmart and was buying the toys. Let me tell you about my experience.’ Then another student raised her hand and said, ‘Well, I was a mom with two kids, buying those toys.’ This led to a very interesting exchange,” Anand says.
“These types of conversations can happen in online discussion forums, too, but may be more difficult to capture. The spontaneity and connectedness of the in-person environment tend to make it a little easier for students to speak up and contribute to the discussion. I’ve also found that this course format creates more opportunities for students to clarify things they didn’t understand. If they want to ask their instructor a question but it’s not relevant to the class, they can walk over during a break and say, ‘Hey, can I ask you about this?’”
PACKed Saturdays will include four hours of in-person instruction, plus networking lunches and coffee breaks to increase engagement.
“If students are really struck by a classmate’s comment, they can catch hold of that person during a coffee break and continue the conversation,” Anand says. “My experience is also that once students get to know each other, they’ll often grab a drink or meal with their friends after class.”
To maximize students’ time together on campus and facilitate networking opportunities, the college will conduct hybrid courses on the same dates throughout the semester.
While the hybrid courses offer several advantages to MBA students, the delivery format is completely optional. For distance learners who are unable to come to campus monthly, or for students who prefer to complete coursework online, the MBA program will continue to offer traditional online courses.
“The kind of flexibility that our program is going to offer is phenomenal. Students might choose to take three online courses and one hybrid course, or they might choose to take 100% of their courses online,” Anand says. “Our goal with these is to enhance the MBA experience and increase the number of choices we’re offering students. We’re committed to making sure that whatever choice students make, they have a great learning experience.”
This fall, Poole College will offer two MBA courses in the new format – Creating Value in Organizations (MBA 580) with Chris Hitch and Negotiation and Conflict Management (MBA 533) with Roger Mayer. The courses’ PACKed Saturdays will be held on Sept. 16, Oct. 14, Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.
“These PACKed Saturdays are a great opportunity to have more students come to campus more regularly, so we plan to expand the number of courses offered in this format over the next two years,” Anand says. “I’m really excited about this program and the opportunity to meet some of our students face to face.”
To learn more about the Jenkins MBA program at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.