Understanding the Preferences for Online Learning: Online MBAs in Malaysia

Understanding the Preferences for Online Learning: Online MBAs in Malaysia

Geoffrey Alan Williams (HELP University, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5514-9.ch012


Online learning is promoted by the Malaysian Government as a key element in the Higher Education Blueprint 2015-25 (Shift 9: Globalized Online Learning), but research in the Malaysian context is very underdeveloped. This chapter aims to fill part of this gap with a simple analysis of online Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses to examine the appetite and preferences of actual and potential MBA students for online learning. Using data from local and international students studying on MBA programs in Malaysia, the authors show that the MBA students in their sample still have a largely instrumental view of the value drivers of their study programs. The key factors identified by the largest number of groups were facilities, price, certificate authenticity, duration, and flexibility of course times.
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Current Research On Online And Blended Mbas

Much of the literature on the success factors for online MBA courses focus on case studies of particular programs. For example, Roe, Toma, Alfred and Yallapragada, (2015) look at the factors required in developing a high quality online MBA using the example of the College of Business at Arkansas State University which has been ranked number 1 in faculty credentials and training and in the top 15 in all categories among all online MBA programs by “U. S. News and World Report” for three consecutive years. They argue that from the beginning, many online degree programs were viewed as low quality compared to traditional programs and because of this, many public and private universities were slow to adopt them. However, this attitude changed as more and more “non-traditional” students began to enter business schools and employees already holding jobs began to seek to improve their qualifications by studying while still working. For both these groups, online degree programs offered an opportunity to go to school while still being employed. In response to these changes, many schools offering traditional MBA programs began to offer online MBA programs to meet the market demand and to compete with other schools. In line with this trend, Arkansas State University launched a high quality online MBA program that parallels the best of the other online MBA programs.

Kyle and Festervand (2005) argue that while the popularity of the MBA degree has resulted in booming enrolments in the United States and around the world, by the late 1990s, the MBA degree seemed to be in danger of being taken over by trends in high technology. First, for-profit providers gained students and credibility to such an extent that respected traditional not-for-profit universities were tempted to create new for-profit subsidiaries. Second, online delivery became the “medium of the future,” and the de facto mode of delivery for leading-edge courses. Third, the dot-com explosion made technology-related programs attractive as part of a wider mega-trend to technology-based delivery of all manner of goods and services.

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