Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (LFGSM) has recently launched a 2-year fully-online Immersion MBA (iMBA) program that offers a virtual-reality learning environment combined with guidance from peers and faculty, so that students will be best prepared for the real world of business.
Using the learning-by-doing approach, the iMBA program positions each student as a new employee in a simulated manufacturing company. In this virtual environment, students are presented with real-world challenges similar to the challenges that they will encounter in the real world of business.
As the students cycle through each of the company’s ten departments, they interact with their bosses and co-workers on both a professional and personal level. They receive assignments at unpredictable intervals through a variety of virtual mediums – e-mail, voicemail, text message, or face-to-face – similar to what happens in the real world of business. Because the assignments rarely have set due dates, students are forced to prioritize their tasks and make judgments about what to do and when.
75% of the students’ time is spent in the virtual-reality environment, while the other 25% is spent in online discussions and group projects. Students also receive advice and support from some of the iMBA program’s alumni who have volunteered to serve as mentors.
Students can advance through the program at their own pace, although instructors do monitor their log-ins and activities.
Benefits of the immersive experience
The iMBA’s immersive learning experience allows students to integrate newly-learned skills in a more powerful way than regular lecture-style learning. In the words of LFGSM: “Most retained learning is acquired through personal or vicarious experience. Retained (sticky) learning comes more from hearing, seeing, feeling and doing than it does from preaching, lectures or structured chapter summaries.”
Furthermore, according to LFGSM, “Hiring managers look for people who have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ when it comes to critical business challenges,” so a virtual iMBA is the best way to prepare students for the job market. By working through the constant stream of challenges encountered in the virtual-reality environment, students can potentially gain more skills than individuals who already have a few years of real-world business experience behind them.