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High-Tech Programs for Hyper-Connected MBAs

MBA programs are rushing to embrace the latest technologies to attract business school students used to interacting online around the clock. These are some of the tech tools and tactics business schools are using:

1: Online Business Schools

At Duke University, MBAs use Cisco Quad social software to collaborate with colleagues around the world. They create virtual working groups, conduct chats, voice or video sessions, share files or videos and find people with common interests to form communities.

"Technologies like Cisco Quad allow us to create a sense of community and collaborative interaction necessary to prepare our students to excel in a globally connected world," says Blair Sheppard, dean of Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

2tor technology, meanwhile, allows students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School to interact during weekly face-to-face, online MBA classes with professors and some 10 to 15 colleagues based worldwide. It also enables the scheduling of virtual office hours and study groups.


2: Virtual Business School Gatherings

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) not only sponsors the GMAT exam, but also the GMATCH Virtual MBA Fair.

The most recent fair attracted 1,750 prospective MBAs from 136 countries. Prospective MBAs met with admissions officers of 56 global business schools and attended interactive MBA information sessions, all of it online through the GMATCH fair site.

"We're excited to participate in the GMATCH fair to interact with potential students we wouldn't have the opportunity to meet in (person)," says Stacey Dorang, assistant MBA admissions director at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.

INSEAD Business School, meanwhile, has purchased a virtual island in the 3D online world Second Life, where INSEAD has built a replica of its Paris campus.

On its Second Life campus, the business school hosts virtual classes, meetings and conferences. Prospective students around the world are able to visit INSEAD through Second Life to attend virtual information sessions. Alumni may also connect through Second Life to benefit from school conferences online.

3: iPads, iTunes and Podcasts in MBA Programs

Apple iPads are catching on at some institutions. Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business, IMD Business School in Switzerland and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business are using the tablets in their MBA programs. Students enrolled in Rutgers University's Mini-MBA programs in digital marketing and social media marketing also use iPads.

Boston University's School of Management, New York University's Stern School of Business and the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business are testing the use of the devices.

NYU Stern's Chief Information Officer Anand Padmanabhan already believes students will benefit from the mobility of the device. "If they're in a subway they don't have to open a 300-page course pack and thumb through it," Padmanabhan told US News and World Report.

The University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, meanwhile, are relying on iTunes apps to keep their students and alumni informed.

Harvard Business School provides admission, financial aid and career tips through podcasts, while MIT's Sloan School of Management podcasts interesting findings, including how people and machines can come together for better business.

4: Social MBA Programs

The London School of Business and finance (LSBF) delivers the entire LSBF Global MBA online through Facebook. More than 42,000 people have already signed up for the Facebook MBA, including some 80 hours of high-definition video content. They should only have to pay for the MBA program if interested in taking exams and obtaining a LSBF/University of Wales degree.

"There is immense potential in the market for online education," LSBF founder Aaron Etingen says, adding that he decided to set up his business school on the 500-million member social network because "Facebook is a real part of people's lives."

MBAs also rely on Facebook to coordinate study groups, while MBA admissions and professors are increasingly communicating through micro-blogging site Twitter.

5: Business School Simulations

MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman relies on his web-based solar industry simulation to teach MBAs strategy. Pretending to be Silicon Valley's SunPower managers, students set prices for solar panels, competing against other firms to maximize profits while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, MBA students acquire real-life portfolio and client management experience in the AIM Trading Room. Equipped with research and tools available on Wall Street, it allows MBA students to virtually manage the multimillion-dollar MBA Investment Fund.

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