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Online college courses connect students digitally

Universities are taking online degrees to a whole new level, giving college students opportunities and experiences that are not often found in a traditional college classroom.

Online education has become a desirable choice of study at colleges and universities. More students are pursuing online degrees than in previous years. Millions of students are taking advantage of online education to fulfill academic opportunities and achieve professional success previously unavailable with traditional forms of study.

Catering to these students in a virtual setting requires customization of programs, something George Washington University’s School of Business is doing with its connected Digital Community. This Digital Community creates classroom conversations that might not be available in the traditional classroom setting; for example, connecting business students with mentors working in Shanghai, or having an alum share business management tips from an office in Los Angeles. These business programs are 99 percent online, allowing students to study anywhere – on campus, in a study abroad setting or while already employed – and connecting them to the same professors teaching the classroom courses.

“How business schools are connected to what society needs, what the issues of society are and what governments are doing is the future of business education,” says Doug Guthrie, dean for George Washington School of Business.

Developing a Digital Community opens doors for students to understand business on a deeper level, not only in the nation’s capital where George Washington University is located, but also the world. Master degrees offered by the GWSB: Digital Community include an MBA, project management, tourism and information technology systems.

What’s exceptional about this online program is that students do have the opportunity to spend time on campus in Washington, D.C., just blocks from World Bank, International Monetary Fund, White House Executive Offices and the State Department, immersing them in the middle of the operating business world.

Other online programs across the country are also promoting community connections. Some universities subscribe to a peer-review program of quality insurance for continuous improvement in online education and student learning. These programs assure students that the universities are incorporating meaningful interaction between students, course learning and real world experience.

Globalization brings opportunities and efficiencies in higher education. It creates complex networks and builds international bridges. It allows for knowledge sharing on a grand scale and for deeper connection. It also permits universities to transform themselves from the narrow confines of their own communities to compete globally. In short, it ups their game.

“We can now really draw globally for ideas, mentorship and conversation in order to bring about deeper learning,” says Dr. Liesl Riddle, associate dean for the George Washington School of Business.

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