On Saturday I attended the second half of the Warwick Distance Learning MBA Induction sessions. Prior to this, my study group had our first official meeting, which was held in our own private ‘wbsLive’ room. This was a slightly different experience to the induction room, as we all had the ability to share presentations and desktops, as well as annotate and comment on the content being shared. There were four of us attending this time (in addition to two of us from the first meeting, there were also members from North Wales and Switzerland), and a fifth member of the group joined just at the end. As we were now used to the technology, this meeting was a lot more productive than our initial discussion, and we managed to share video most of the time which I felt really helped us to get to know each other, and improved the group interactions significantly.
After our study group meeting, we had a short break before starting the official induction. The first half of this was taken up by introductions to each of the three modules we are studying this semester:
Accounting & Financial Management
After an initial discussion around the aims of this module, the presenter quickly confronted what is sometimes a big concern for students taking this module – the focus on maths & numbers. He immediately held a poll to understand how people felt about dealing with numbers (great use of the technology!), and most of the cohort responded either ‘numerically capable’ or ‘long time since maths at school’ (which was probably a relief to the tutor!). He took the time to reassure those who thought they might struggle, and then shared with us a video to put our minds at rest:
Following this, he discussed a number of topics, including the importance of accounting to the MBA qualification, accounting standards, and a consideration of whether accounting is an art or a science (I expect this will be a topic of debate as the module progresses…). The presenter also held a poll to understand how much experience the cohort had with accountancy, and it was good to see there are a number of accountants on the course – hopefully they can provide some useful viewpoints and feedback along with the tutors.
The second module we were introduced to was organisational behaviour, which is about what people do in organisations and why. As a very ‘human’ topic, I think it is likely that everyone in the cohort will be able to draw on their own experiences to contribute to the discussions – many will have managed a team, and almost everyone will have been in a position where they were part of a group or organisation, and been affected by the way that group/organisation was run.
One of the concepts that was referred to in the introduction was the ‘medical model’, which is an approach that can be used to analysing case studies, and is similar to the way a doctor approaches a patient:
- problem identification (not perform a diagnosis at this point)
- problem diagnosis
- consider options
- make a recommendation
- provide a plan of action
Although in many ways this seems relatively obvious (well, to me at least), having the approach presented with specific steps made me feel a lot more confident about responding to a case study for assessments and the final assignment.
Economics of the Business Environment
The final module for this semester is Economics, and the first thought that I (and probably most of the cohort) had about this module, is how relevant it is. Given the challenges surrounding the global economy, the uncertainty around the future of the Euro (which will no doubt be an MBA discussion point over the next few months), and the overall impact that government policy is having on many of us, I think this will be a module of particular interest to most people, with many viewpoints and experiences to share (indeed, the chat window was very active throughout the introduction with people expressing opinions and asking questions). I also expect that this module might provide some views around why certain public policy decisions are made, and the long-term impact of these decisions – and probably create as many questions as it provides answers!
Following the three module introductions, we then had two sessions in the afternoon not related to the course content:
Personal and Career Development
Warwick Business School has a full team responsible for supporting students with personal and career development, which was great to see. Although I have no specific need for the direct career support at the moment, many of the services they offer are of benefit for ongoing personal development and networking. In addition, I am sure they will be increasingly useful towards the end of the MBA, as I look to how I can maximise the additional knowledge and experience that I will have acquired during the course.
As the tutor at the start positioned, this is not a session to teach us how to read. The focus of this session was exploring how to be an effective reader, and use this to be able to make the most of the time available for study. Topics covered included the reading environment, behaviours that slow you down when reading (such as reading ahead or reviewing text already read), and also the concept of different purposes for reading (eg. for interest, to gather knowledge, to study, for fun, etc). The last topic was very interesting – it reminded me that despite studying for an MBA, I can still justify reading other books (such as those I recently received for Christmas and birthday), just because they are interesting and help me relax.
And that’s it … I have received my textbooks, completed the induction sessions, met my study group and prepared my study plan. Now the hard work starts – time to start reading, watching lessons, contributing to the online discussions, and completing the exercises.
Here I go…