Online course works for frequent traveller
Sales director Patrick Wu Chun-ling found that a good way to enhance his qualifications while keeping up with his busy travel schedules was to study online.
He was based in Shanghai in late 2005 when he thought about pursuing a higher degree. But his work for courier UPS required him to make trips throughout Asia and beyond.
Attending classes regularly at one location did not seem feasible. Then his wife noticed a television commercial on the MBA programme offered by online graduate school U21Global. She immediately encouraged her husband to apply.
Since enrolling in the course in March last year, Mr Wu has developed international contacts comprising classmates in the same course who are from other places. Though delivered online, the course provides a networking opportunity.
Now based in Hong Kong, Mr Wu had group discussions at Shanghai University with fellow students from Malaysia, Britain and Australia, who were working in Shanghai.
'The course is globalised. The students enrolled in it come from various countries and some are working in Shanghai,' he said.
In Singapore, he socialised and worked with fellow students on a group assignment.
Mr Wu has given himself five years to complete the degree and is pleased with the flexibility provided by the course, which allows him to balance his work, study and family life.
'I take my family out on Sundays and on weekdays I usually wait until my children have gone to bed before going through the study materials posted on the Net.'
When travelling he spends his free time in the evening, usually after business functions or dinners, studying in the hotel room and communicating electronically with professors, instructors and classmates.
He has the internet and the vast group of mature students so it does not matter much that he is not having lessons in a classroom setting.
'You learn a lot from the ideas, experiences or stories posted by other students. We share with each other the issues or challenges we face at work.'
He said as many as 4,000 e-mails may be posted for each course.
The diverse backgrounds of the U21Global faculty also helped broaden his understanding of business issues. The professors came from different countries so they provided different input on the same issue.
Not meeting them face to face has not undermined his drive to learn. He said what really mattered was self-discipline.
'Self-discipline is important even if you have face-to-face interaction with teachers. The feedback from teachers can also increase your motivation to learn.'
Also encouraging to Mr Wu is the ease in using the online learning system.
He felt worried initially about the technical complexities of the online learning tools but soon found them to be user-friendly.
'For someone like me who is often relocated from one place to another, a flexible course that gives me a lot of freedom is more suitable,' Mr Wu said.