Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Learning on a Vertical Level: OKC-Based Vertical Learning Curve Offers Virtual-Reality MBA Degree

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Learning on a Vertical Level: OKC-Based Vertical Learning Curve Offers Virtual-Reality MBA Degree

Article excerpt

A group of workers tries to explain the nature of problems they are having with an issue at their plant, but their boss doesn't really seem to be listening to what they are saying. Their frustration is evident.

It's a real-world problem from a real plant. However, the workers and their hardheaded boss are animated characters used to outline a problem in a course that is part of a virtual-reality MBA degree offered by Oklahoma Baptist University in partnership with Vertical Learning Curve in Oklahoma City.

VLC is headed up by CEO John Cragin, a 1969 OBU graduate and former business professor.

Cragin describes VLC's approach as an alternative to the "click and snore" instruction of some online learning and training programs.

Scott Harris, director of OBU's International Graduate School in Oklahoma City, has reviewed some of the online work from VLC.

"I felt the pressure to meet the goal that that program puts you in," he said. "It gives you a real-world feel for the demands of a new person in a business."

Harris said he expects students to gain real-world experience from the VLC courses.

He described the work as user-friendly but challenging and said students should find the partnership very supportive of their desire and goal of obtaining a master's degree.

Kyle Tresch, dean of OBU's Paul Dickinson School of Business, said the online program is aimed at maximizing opportunities for students to earn a master's degree in business.

"The on-ground program obviously tailors itself to people who live in the region, but we recognize that not every student lives in or around Oklahoma City," Tresch said. "One of the beautiful things about the VLC program is that it's accessible from the globe."

Tresch said some students in the military may begin their MBA experience with the on-the-ground program, then continue with the VLC program after being sent overseas.

"It offers that ability to close distances," he said.

Tresch said the university was well-acquainted with former faculty member Cragin and what VLC was doing before the program was launched. He said a number of OBU faculty members were involved in developing curricula for the VLC program, and some on-ground MBA students volunteered to beta test one of its accounting courses.

The dean said he knows of no other company that does what VLC is doing by injecting human characters and a 3-D element into online courses.

Tresch said MBA students have thus far been supplementing their regular classes with VLC courses, but the full online program is available for enrollment.

Indiana Wesleyan University also recently signed on to offer the virtual MBA program.

Cragin said students gain an emotional as well as a cognitive response when presented with the VLC simulations. He said that in the plant scenario, students find themselves among hundreds of employees and numerous offices and departments they have to navigate as they try to resolve problems. …

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