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Over three decades ago, I moved from Tokyo to Boston to get my Harvard MBA. Back then, the only way for a diverse group of people to discuss case studies was for all of them to pull up stakes and relocate to a campus in the United States for two years. There were no options to educate online. There was no such thing as a digital entrepreneur.

Technology has changed all that.

Thanks to sophisticated video conferencing tools (even before the VUCA times of COVID-19), people around the globe have grown accustomed to real-time online discussions as satisfying as the real-world equivalent. Now, in 2022, those tools are both an invaluable part of business operations and a game-changer for the future of education. To grow successful digital entrepreneurs, we must educate online.

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How GLOBIS University Came to Educate Online

GLOBIS University, the business school I founded in 1992, launched its online MBA in Japanese in 2014. But we wanted to do something a little different from other providers trying to educate online at the time. Our online MBA courses went fully live. No pre-recorded content whatsoever.

This approach proved an immediate, long-term success. Enrollment doubled every year for several years in a row. Even better, student surveys rated the online and on-campus experience at comparably high levels.

From there, it just made sense to extend GLOBIS online courses to the English side. We started offering online, a-la-carte Pre-MBA courses in English in January 2016. In September 2017, we launched a full online MBA in English for the first time. And we kept to our promise for live courses over a pre-recorded format.

Our mission to grow digital entrepreneurs for the Technovate era had begun.

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7 Advantages to a Real-Time, Online MBA

Based on student feedback, enrollment rates, and other data, we’ve found that a real-time online MBA has seven big advantages.

1. Remote, but real

The first advantage of going online, but staying live is fairly obvious: 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.

2. A real-time community

One of the most valued parts of GLOBIS—not only for our MBA, but for other GLOBIS services, as well—is our community. When you do an online MBA in real time, 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 news, their opinions are from the front lines.

3. Work-study balance

We started our online MBA courses at GLOBIS long before working from home became the new normal. Why? Because there’s always been a need for that flexibility among entrepreneurs.

Many MBA students work or even run their own companies, and even small businesses are a lot of work. A real-time, remote online format means you can run your business and study at the same time without having to settle for pre-recorded lessons that are slowly (sometimes swiftly) going out of date. If you want to be a digital entrepreneur founding an AI-first company, or even a tech-savvy business person in a large corporation, you need up-to-date knowledge.

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Successful business owners also know how important it is to acquire those key business skills without having to step away from running the businesses they’ve built. What’s more, working entrepreneurs deal with daily business challenges, making them a fantastic source of information (and inspiration) to other students.

4. Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Many MBA programs offer diversity. We live in an age of globalization, after all. People from everywhere want a future in business.

Unfortunately, in real-world classroom discussions, native English speakers tend to dominate through a simple, linguistic “home advantage.” Online, however, you don’t get shut out of discussions. The chat box offers equity for diverse opinions, making the overall class more inclusive.

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.

5. Reduced ageism

Diverse classmates doesn’t just mean you’ll be learning with people from different places. It also means you’ll have access to insights across generations.

Conventional on-campus MBAs tend to attract a relatively young crowd. After all, younger people can more easily quit their jobs and move somewhere else for a year or two. Conversely, online MBAs appeal to more mature students, as well as more female students (women on maternity leave, etc.). Greater diversity and range of life experience make for richer discussions and more interesting points of view.

6. A digital skill focus

Because an online MBA is online and in real time, students are immediately working with technology—not just setting it up, but troubleshooting, enhancing their experience with supplementary tools, and helping others find solutions. These are the foundations of a digital entrepreneur.

Over time, those who educate online in real time acquire highly relevant skills for the business world and digital market.

Working in global organizations these days is all about working in digital businesses. It’s guaranteed that you’ll be using technology to collaborate efficiently across geographically dispersed teams. A real-time online MBA is the perfect training ground for the modern workplace.

7. Access global lecturers

Lecturers who educate online can be from anywhere on Earth. And when students join them in real time, their access to those minds is exponentially enhanced.

Instructors don’t need to be based at any specific physical campus any more than the students do. Questions don’t require back-and-forth emails between busy people across distant time zones. You can get answers fast to all your burning business questions.

Educate Online in Real Time—It’s Worth It

As I observed these seven reasons emerge to support our online MBA approach, I became all the more bullish on the future of online MBAs—the real-time version, not the MOOC type.

But there’s also the macro picture.

In 2016, when we started offering online MBA courses in English, 190 million Americans—over half the total population—were shopping online. And almost 45 percent of them got their news from Facebook. Netflix had almost 94 million subscribers in over 190 countries worldwide.

Fast forward to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the acceleration of internet usage and online solutions becomes very real.

The internet, in other words, has long since revolutionized retail, news media, and entertainment. It enabled digital entrepreneurship. Now it’s transforming not just MBA courses, but university education in its entirety. Students are discovering that they can get the same—or even better—results without needing to be physically on campus, thanks to chat and discussion programs. While this really took root during the difficult times of 2020-2022, it sets us up for a bright future.

An online, real-time MBA empowers students to get a quality education while setting a course for the future at their own pace. And the value of that is very real.

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