The On-Campus MBA is the past. The “real-time” online MBA is the future.

A quarter-century ago, I went from Tokyo to Boston to get my MBA. Back then, the only way for a diverse group of people to discuss case studies was for all of them to up stakes and relocate to a campus in the United States for two years.

Technology has changed all that. Thanks to sophisticated video conferencing tools, people dotted around the globe can now have real-time online discussions as satisfying as the real-world classroom equivalent.

GLOBIS, the business school I founded in 1992, launched a Japanese-language online MBA in 2014. Enrollment is currently doubling every year. In surveys, students of the online course rate the outcomes at similarly high levels as students taking a conventional on-campus MBA.

We’ve also been offering online a-la-carte Pre-MBA courses in English since January 2016, but this September GLOBIS is going to offer a completely interactive online MBA in English for the first time.

Unlike many other online courses, all the classes will be live, with no pre-recorded content whatsoever.

Doing a “live” or “real-time” online MBA has seven big advantages.

・ You can “be there” without having to “go there.” With online classes, physical limitations disappear. There’s no relocating, not even any commuting. Anyone, anywhere can take part.

Your classmates’ input is global and timely. Comments from overseas students reflect the realities of their country at that very moment, making discussions more lively and topical. Like foreign correspondents on the TV news, their opinions are from the front line and up to the second.

・ You can run your business and study at the same time. With an online MBA, successful entrepreneurs can acquire key business skills without having to step away from running the businesses they’ve built. Working entrepreneurs dealing with daily challenges are a fantastic source of information (and inspiration) to other students in the class. 

・ You won’t be shut out of discussions. In real-world classroom discussions, native English speakers tend to dominate through simple linguistic “home advantage.” The online “chat” function tends to equal things out. Because everyone has time to think and pitch in, no one has a monopoly on putting forward their opinions and no one feels left out.

・ You’ll have more diverse classmates. Conventional on-campus MBAs tend to attract a relatively young crowd, because younger people can more easily quit their jobs and move somewhere else for a year or two. Conversely, online MBAs appeal to a more diverse crowd, with more mature students, more female students (women on maternity leave) etc.  Greater diversity and range of life experience makes for richer discussions and more interesting points of view.

・ You’ll acquire highly relevant digital business skills. Working in a global organization these days is all about using online tools to collaborate efficiently across geographically dispersed teams. A real-time online MBA is the perfect practical preparation for the modern working environment.

・ Your lecturers can be from anywhere on Earth. When courses move online, the professors don’t need to be based in any specific physical campus any more than the students do. This means B-schools can call on talented teachers from anywhere in the world.

That’s seven reasons why I’m bullish on the future of online MBAs—the “real-time” version, not the MOOC type.

And then there’s the macro picture…

In 2016, 190 million Americans—or over half the total population—shopped online. And almost 45 percent of them got their news from Facebook. Netflix currently has almost 94 million subscribers in over 190 countries worldwide.

The internet, in other words, has already revolutionized retail, news media and entertainment. I believe that it’s now transforming not just MBA courses, but university education in its entirety, as students discover that they can get the same—or even better—results without needing to be physically on campus thanks to chat and discussion programs.

What do you think? Are you more in favor of the virtual or the physical option? Let me know your thoughts and experiences and I’ll try to respond in real time!

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Photo By Melpomene

Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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