Early last month, before coronavirus launched our massive, worldwide experiment in distance learning, Julie and I had the good fortune to spend a few days at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business. Over the last three years, Gies decided to take its MBA programs online — first creating a new kind of curriculum, custom-designed for the medium, from the ground up; then doubling down and discontinuing its residential programs altogether.
Now more than 3200 students from all over the world are enrolled in the Gies iMBA, where they learn from a first-rate faculty, supported by a large and innovative e-Learning Team and a small army of course assistants. For Gies students, recorded video lectures are only the textbook. The real learning happens in vibrant live discussions, running simultaneously on the main screen and in the chatbox; in well-attended virtual office hours; and in group projects worked out through Zoom, at all hours of day and night.