What you need to know about executive education from distance learning programs?

Distance learning programs are becoming increasingly common in the executive education field. Distance learning programs provide management training that offers the convenience of being able to study at home in front of the computer.

That can be a tempting option if you are a busy executive juggling responsibilities at work and home while struggling to find time for professional training. Distance learning programs offer the practical advantages of allowing you to gain knowledge when you want it and where you want it. But there are limits to how far you can go with even well designed distance learning programs if you are seeking business leadership skills and management skills.

The online learning revolution
The Internet is revolutionizing the way businesses operate and that's no different for business schools. Developments in information technology are making online learning an integral part of the curriculum.

It is a useful feature that is enabling executives to further their management training with minimal time away from work. But you may be missing out on a lot if you depend on programs offered entirely through online courses.

Earning an MBA online?
Online learning is evolving to the point where online business schools are now offering MBA and EMBA programs through the Internet. All you need is a laptop computer or a tablet and you can work wherever there's a Wi-Fi connection — even at the beach.

While that may seem like an attractive proposition, you may want to think twice about business degree courses offered exclusively through distance learning programs. The slickest online courses will be unable to deliver the same learning experience offered on campus by one of the best business schools in the world.

Where distance learning programs fall short
Educators are improving online courses but there are some things you can't incorporate in distance learning programs. While top international business schools use online technology for their leadership and management courses, they haven't done away with classes.

Here are a few features of the best executive education programs that distance learning programs can't give you:

  • Fresh perspectives acquired from group discussions and one-on-one encounters with peers and expert professors
  • The chance to practice your leadership skills and management skills with fellow participants
  • Opportunities to interact and network with other executives from around the world
  • Personalized executive coaching from expert coaches who can provide a constructive assessment of your leadership abilities
  • Visits through some of the best MBA and EMBA programs to key regions of the developing and developed world to learn more about the globalized marketplace
  • Customized programs that drive learning into your company for immediate results

The people factor
Dealing with people is ultimately what business leadership and management is all about. But distance learning programs lack that essential ingredient — human interaction.

Interplay with fellow participants and professors is an ingrained part of the learning process at good business schools. That is particularly true for honing leadership skills. Being able to practice in front of your peers and be judged by expert coaches can play an important role in your development as a leader.

Ranking the best business schools
Another important factor to bear in mind is the reputation of institutions offering distance learning programs. The qualifications obtained from top international business schools are highly regarded by companies.

Check the executive education rankings published regularly by such independent, highly regarded sources as the Financial Times and Forbes to see how well online business schools fare. That will help you further assess the merits of distance learning programs.