Flexibility the key to IT training

RESEARCH at the Graduate School of Business (GSB), Curtin University of Technology shows that using information technology to deliver academic programs is complex.

Students are looking for an integrated approach that can combine the flexibility available using technology, with the stim-ulation and interaction, which can be gained in the classroom..

The research suggests that it would be a mistake for tertiary institutions to perceive information technology as a tool in the delivery of content that can completely replace face-to-face teaching.

The findings are outlined in the paper Postgraduate Business Education and Flexible Learning Strategies: An Analysis of Customer Perspectives by myself and Professor Margaret Nowak, Director, Curtin Graduate School of Business.

Our work has found that using information technology to deliver university programs requires an understanding of the needs of the customer, the fundamentals of adult learning in management science, and the technical side of information technology.

Flexible educational delivery means offering students access to units of study in a face-to-face mode, a pure Internet mode, or a combination of face-to-face and Internet (mixed mode).

Flexible Learning is a unique GSB teaching and learning strategy that provides our students with the opportunity to design a study plan that fits their learning style and the changing patterns of their lifestyle.

The GSB offers various learning methods so people can tailor their Graduate Business Qualification (GBQ), Graduate Diploma in Business (GradDipBus) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses to suit their specific and individual needs.

Students at the GSB can also study in the traditional face-to-face mode, where our highly-qualified faculty join together with students from the business community for interactive learning sessions.

For our research, more than 250 internal, external and potential students associated with the GSB, were surveyed about their Internet competency and views on flexible learning and post-graduate business study.

Our research project found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the students we surveyed preferred a mixed mode, comprising a combination of face-to-face and Internet study plans.

Three quarters felt that the ability to study at a convenient time was a very advantageous

aspect of Internet learning delivery.

However, 77 per cent of students surveyed also believed that learning through classroom interaction was important.

l Dr Richard Ladyshewsky is a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University’s, Graduate School of Business.

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