Small Business Survival Guide


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Small Business Survival Guide

  1. 1. Small business survival guide: surviving the downturn<br />By admin<br />Created 12/12/2008 - 16:59<br />[1]<br />Top business schools are more regularly offering distance learningMBAs, allowing candidates to continue in their work and family lives while advancing their careers with an MBA. But, despite great technological advancements, many are still unsure about distance learning MBAs or about how to distinguish between such courses.<br />EachMBA program should combine theoretical reflection with practical content. Bob de Wit, CEO of Strategy Works, expresses these as " rigor and relevance" while Mintzberg, in Managers, not MBAs, calls it “experienced reflection." In this sense, an MBA distance learning course should not be different from any other MBA program.<br />MBA distance learning courses offer their content in a flexible way, often through an electronic learning environment (ELO), such as Moodle or Blackboard. For the student, the main difference with face-to-face MBAs lies in the possibility to combine work and study, or Advance your career without putting your life on hold, as is the slogan of the Global Distance MBA, a joint distance learning program offered by the Open University of the Netherlands and Maastricht School of Management.<br />Challenges<br />The first challenge presented by distance learning is to deliver this quality within an environment that encompasses a great distance. All accredited programs will do their best to offer the best faculty, both in the field of academic and practical experience.<br />The second challenge is to incorporate the various social and practical competencies that should be provided by anMBA program. There are many variations in distance MBA programs. Two examples of extreme possibilities: some use an electronic learning environment to make (supporting) materials available for students. The students will still have to attend classes and meetings. Others will offer all their materials and assignments via this electronic learning system, reducing all communication between students and the tutors to electronic communication.<br />The first of these are electronic versions of traditional programs, not true distance learning programs. The other programs have the disadvantage that, with the present state of technology, not all social skills can be taught and assessed over the internet.A first-class distance program should offer a balance between online courses and assessments and personal on-site contacts.<br />Mintzberg also poses a third challenge to MBAs: each individual's experiences are unique and anMBA program should take this into account. In a distance program, all routine and standard procedures should be present in the learning environment, offering the student the maximum amount of freedom to study in his or her own time and place. However, standardization of the learning materials should be accompanied by an individual treatment of the student (and his or her business experience), whereas some pacing may be required because of group work and assignments. <br />Lastly, distance learning demands an integration of the administrative and educational processes within the program. Admissions, information on results and practical information all have to be expressed explicitly in a way that is convenient for the student. As there is little physical contact between the student and the institute (or tutor), it is important that all information is available, up-to-date and synchronized between tutors and staff.<br />Five questions<br />More could be written about the distance MBA programs, their educational philosophy and the technology they use. Here, we have limited ourselves to those aspects that are of interest to students who are new to the program.<br />Although this may not cover everything they want to know, students could start by asking the following five questions:1.    WHICH INSTITUTES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM AND THE ACCREDITATION?Most distance learning programs are offered over the internet. Similar to ordering other products over the internet, it is sometimes very difficult to asses the quality of a program. Every good MBA program should be accredited by an organization such as AMBA or Equis.<br />2.    WHAT EXPERIENCE DOES THE OFFERING INSTITUTE HAVE WITH DISTANCE EDUCATION?In Europe, the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities is working on an accreditation of distance teaching to make distance education more transparent. However, at this moment, institutional experience is the only measure for practical know-how with respect to distance teaching.<br />3.    WHAT ARE THE RESPONSE TIMES?The response time to e-mails or telephone calls can be an indication of the response time within the courses. Remember, when you are studying on your own it is important that, if there are any problems, you get a quick reply.<br />4.    WHAT DOES THE PROGRAM OFFER IN TERMS OF SOCIAL AND PRACTICAL SKILLS?Is all studying going to take place electronically, or will there also be physical meetings? If not, how are discussions organized and how is the connection with the actual business community handled?<br />5.    WHAT ARE THE " HIDDEN"  COSTS?Most distance programs do require a computer, an internet connection and some computer skills, but to what extent? Complex programs, videos and discussion programs require a more expensive computer and a broad band connection. But there may also be travelling expenses for face-to-face contacts. Remember, quality has a price, so a high-quality distance MBA program may not, by definition, be cheaper than a traditional program.<br />In conclusion, with respect to the content of the program, a distance MBA should not be different from a traditional MBA. The important difference is the opportunity it gives students to combine work, private life and study. The level of quality then lies in the degree in which the distance MBA program offers this freedom to its students. Although a lot depends on the preferences of the individual student, these five questions should provide some quick answers to help you in making a first selection. Frank de Langen is Lecturer International Strategy at the Open University of the Netherlands and Academic Director of the Global Distance MBA, a joint distance learning program offered by the Open University of the Netherlands and Maastricht School of Management.<br />Salaries<br />careers<br />About QS<br />Contact Us<br />School Access<br />Sitemap<br />Link to Us<br />Privacy Policy<br />associated websites<br /><br /><br /><br /> <br /><br /><br />© QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited 1994-2009. All rights reserved. Registered Office: 1 Tranley Mews, Fleet Road London, NW3 2DG UK<br /> <br />Source URL:<br />Links:[1]<br />