MBA program launches e-mobile pilot project

In August of this year, over 100 students entering the full-time masters of business administration (MBA) program were given their own BlackBerry. Yesterday, the School of Business and Economics (SBE) officially announced the launch of a joint MBA e-learning pilot program. In partnership with Research in Motion (RIM) and Rogers Communications, this pilot program will take learning outside of the classroom to wherever a student may be.

“Our goal is to outfit the student with all the tools they need to do their job appropriately, especially coming from this city it has to include the BlackBerry,” said Ginny Dybenko, dean of Laurier’s School of Business and Economics.

“What I could see is that students were learning so effectively, informally, using text messaging on their BlackBerry around the campus,” said Dybenko. “I wanted to move a little bit of that energy and interest into the stuffy old classroom.”

This is the first such initiative in Canada to incorporate classroom work with the BlackBerry. The goal is to allow students an opportunity to interact with one another on group projects, access course material before classes and facilitate classroom discussion.

The e-learning pilot program was designed to link students, faculty and staff more closely to resources and each other. It provides accessibility, or “learning on the go,” for students studying the course material outside of class.

Teamwork is made easier through the use of BlackBerrys as business students are often required to collaborate on school projects. Multimedia content in the form of videos, pictures and sounds can also be recorded.

Professors can make course information available, such as a PowerPoint presentation, before lecture happens. Class time is freed, allowing more time to discuss innovative ideas.

“One of the biggest advantages is the collaboration it offers. We do most of our work in teams, so being able to solicit immediate feedback is really helpful,” said MBA student Dana Gregoire.

The e-learning pilot is utilizing BlackBerry applications such as Mobile Chalkboard, which gives students access to course content with embedded rich media, quizzes and surveys. They can access company financials, stock quotes and market research. The BlackBerrys will also automatically update their information for them.

The program will serve as a platform on which to build Laurier’s SBE international program, as you can participate in class facilitation and group work regardless of location.

This isn’t the first such program spearheaded by the Laurier SBE. Laurier’s MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship was also the first in Canada. Laurier was also the first university to have co-op placement.

“Laurier has always been innovative. We were the first business program to put a co-op program in. You can go through all kinds of firsts that we’ve had, this is just one more,” said Dybenko.

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