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When Everything Went Online, Smith Was Ready

Jul 06, 2020

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Online MBAs laud the program’s collaboration tools and ‘rich interactions’

Back in March, when schools and universities closed their doors and shifted learning online, there were skeptics. How could students learn effectively from laptops? What about those essential interactions between students and instructors? What about student collaboration and teamwork?

Actually, all of that is available with a well-executed online program. And no one knows that better than Maryland Smith’s Online MBA students.

There’s a reason why the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business is ranked in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs. The program gets online right.

Here’s what two 2020 MBA students had to say about the program, in an interview with Poets & Quants. Both students were profiled as part of the publication’s “Best and Brightest Online MBAs.”

Leland NislowLeland Nislow, a senior program manager at Amazon for startup procurement

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? My key criteria when evaluating programs were curriculum, faculty, flexibility, and network – and Maryland had it all.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The consistent high quality and depth of the synchronous online sessions. Before I started the program, I was somewhat skeptical about the ability to create a robust learning environment outside of the traditional classroom. After two years of online learning, I can confidently say that this environment offers ample opportunity for rich interactions for those willing to jump in.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Most of my undergraduate classes followed the familiar traditional lecture format – one professor at the front of the room facing dozens of students, the dozens of students all facing the same direction. The online environment breaks this mold and can spark a deeper and more diverse learning experience. Professors and students enter the online classroom via the same platform and more voices and viewpoints are shared and heard as a result.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Working effectively online (i.e. remotely) has never been a more critical job function than it is today as companies across all industries deliberate over the path forward. Pursuing and excelling in a high caliber online MBA program requires internal discipline and motivation as well as an ability to take decisive action quickly. These qualities, among many others cultivated through online education, form a strong foundation for successes in all facets of professional life.

Vi ZenoneVi Zenone, product marketing lead for Verizon’s public sector segment (Federal, State/Local, Education, and Public Safety)

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Reputation, value, and flexibility were the key attributes when I researched online MBA programs. The Robert H. Smith School of Business met all my requirements. Further, I was impressed with the support I received during the application process. I was partnered with an admissions counselor who answered questions and kept me on track with my application. I also attended an in-person event as well as a virtual meeting where faculty and current students provided additional information about the program and curriculum. Speaking with admissions representatives and attending events geared towards prospective students solidified my choice as the right one.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Technology has played a more significant role in my post-undergraduate experience. UMD’s learning management system (Canvas) made it easy to integrate asynchronous and synchronous learning. I found that the variety of collaboration tools contributed to a more holistic educational experience. The online format required platforms that were easy to use and reliable. For live sessions, we used Adobe Connect. For group work, we turned to the suite of Google products (Hangouts, Docs, Sheets, Slides) to share information. Blending Adobe, Google, and Canvas created a learning community and kept us all connected despite being remotely located.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I have always learned from doing. What my MBA has provided, however, are formal concepts such as corporate finance and managerial accounting to reinforce my work experience. That foundation influences my daily business decisions. For example, when creating marketing campaigns, I need to know the expected return on the investment to build my business and gain executive support. I was able to further refine those skills through this program.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

Robert H. Smith School of Business
Map of Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
Robert H. Smith School of Business
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College Park MD 20742