On Saturday I attended the first Warwick Distance Learning MBA Induction session. This was a 4-hour session held over a system called wbsLive, which is a web, audio and video conferencing system based on the Wimba classroom product.
My initial impressions from this session were really positive. It was great to see all the presenters making the most of the technology, using video, slides and interactive elements. Even more positive was seeing how engaging the rest of the students were from the start of the session – the chat window was constantly full of side discussions, and it was great to see a ‘virtual’ round of applause after each presenter’s slot. However, I did smile when someone commented that if there were this many side conversations going on during an in-person lecture, no-one would be able to hear the presenter!
The topics covered during this induction included an introduction to the course structure, an explanation of the learning environment (mainly the student intranet and virtual learning environments), and a presentation from one of the alumni team. I think Warwick Business School have brought together a good selection of different learning platforms, which should hopefully help us stay engaged with the content, and interact with our fellow students easily. (I was also very pleased to have some of the comments I had already made on the student forums presented as one of the examples of using the tools.)
Following the initial presentations, we then had a break and when we returned all of us were split into ‘breakout rooms’ with the rest of our study group. (As there are 200+ students in this cohort, we are split into study groups of around 10 people where we can support each other through the course). There were only three of us attending the initial induction – myself, someone from Manchester and another person from Dubai, and it was great to meet them and find out a bit about them. Hopefully on our next session we’ll get the chance to meet the rest of the study group, which will be great to hear about all the different people, where they are from, and what they do.
After spending an hour in individual study groups, we were then brought back into the main room for a final Q&A, and you could tell at this point that everyone was settling into the virtual environment – both the text chat and audio questions were being used constantly until the end of the session.
So that was the first induction, and I’ve got a really good feeling about the course moving forward. The content looks really interesting, the learning environment is comprehensive, and the staff are very friendly. Most of all though, I am really impressed with the diversity across the cohort. We have individuals from countries on almost every continent (a few examples are Denmark, Nigeria, Dubai, Canada, Singapore, Bermuda and Mauritius), a wide range of industries (including logistics, retail, finance, technology, consultancy, and manufacturing), and with a variety of experience levels. I’m looking forward to hearing the viewpoints, insights, challenges and opportunities from all of these individuals, and it will be great when we all attend the ‘Warwick Week’ in March where we get the opportunity to meet in person for the week.
The next session is the Induction Part 2 on Saturday 14th January, which is when we get to meet the lecturers and have an introduction to the first three modules:
- Accounting & Financial Management Introduction
- Organisational Behaviour Introduction
- Economics of the Business Environment Introduction
I guess this is when the real fun starts!