Caught Up in the Net ; TECHNOLOGY ++ Podcasts, Blogs and Websites Are Featuring as Teaching Tools as Students Expect More from Their Courses. Nic Paton Reports

Article excerpt

Neil Winstanley is taking a distancelearning MBA course. Once, he might have been forced to wait until he got home before cracking on with his studies. Now, thanks to the march of technology, he can study on the move.

"I can download information on to my PDA and then, if I have a few minutes on the train or wherever, I can listen to it. Or, if I have 30 minutes free, I can log on and do some research. By living it, it lives with you," says Winstanley, 37, a Smith & Nephew product manager from Hull, who started his MBA at Warwick Business School in June.

Just as modern, global business managers expect to be connected 24 hours a day, so business schools have had to respond to the changing technological needs and expectations of their MBA students. In the process, they have embraced podcasts, vodcasts (online video clips), blogs, web boards, micro-sites, audio streaming - the list goes on.

Check out most business schools and you will probably find that they now offer wireless access (or at least widespread access to network ports), digital video and conferencing facilities, online libraries, "lifelong" email addresses and remote access to faculty sites. In some cases, students even get a "business school-ready" laptop (Cranfield School of Management), or a top-of-the-range video iPod (HEC in Paris).

On top of this, podcasts featuring content by lecturers and advice by admissions tutors are becoming more common, as are student or faculty blogs, "eportfolios" (electronic collections of documents) and "wikis" (communally constructed knowledge bases).

In the US, Stanford has a long-standing collaboration with Apple's iTunes and offers downloads of faculty lectures, coursework and star speakers. Harvard podcasts many of its speakers and streams lectures. Websites such as and have also sprung up to offer advice, chat and support .

At London Business School (LBS), the number of MBA applicants with theirownpersonalbloghas really taken off this year, according to Graeme Harper, MBA programme marketing manager.Manystudents now look at such blogs to help them to decide which school to go for.

LBS, which has wireless access across the campus, is launching a series of podcasts later this year. "The expectation is that everything should be available online," explains Parker.

There are challenges, however. …