HD distance learning network powered by Polycom® RealPresence® video solutions lets hundreds of professionals in 23 cities earn dual degrees by taking class right from their hometowns
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Jul 16, 2013: Hundreds of professionals from Canada to Colombia are earning MBAs in a groundbreaking program hosted jointly by Cornell University and Queen’s University, and powered by video collaboration solutions from Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in open, standards-based unified communications and collaboration (UC&C).
The Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA (CQEMBA) Program offers busy professionals located in 23 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Colombia a chance to earn dual MBAs without having to commute to New York and Ontario. The CQEMBA Program relies on Polycom® RealPresence® video collaboration solutions to enable face-to-face interaction between professors and students who remotely attend class from their hometowns.
This year, 160 students are participating in the 16-month program to earn Executive MBAs from business schools ranked in the world’s top 10 by Bloomberg Businessweek. “There are a lot of professionals who would love to get an MBA from Cornell or Queen’s but can’t because they live in Seattle or Atlanta,” said Stephen Demmings, video conferencing manager for CQEMBA, which is offered by Cornell’s Johnson School of Business in Ithaca, N.Y., and Queen’s School of Business in Kingston, Ontario. “This program offers that opportunity, without having to move or suspend their careers to go to school full time.”
The CQEMBA Program combines three residential sessions – where students spend one to two weeks of intensive instruction in either Ithaca or Kingston – with team-based distance learning enabled by Polycom® HDX® room video collaboration systems in each city. Faculty members teach the classes from studios in Ithaca and Kingston, where they interact face-to-face with nearly two dozen student teams in different locations, each with five to nine participants.
“This isn’t a class where the professor just talks for four hours,” said Demmings. “Our gold standard is for some kind of interaction to take place every 10 minutes. We spend a month training faculty to develop skills on engaging students, and those who are very successful at this make students feel like they’re all part of a cohesive class.”
Collaboration without Compromise
“Many students prefer learning over video,” said Demmings. “With Polycom, they can see faculty clearly, they see people who ask questions, and they see content and documents clearly. You don’t have a traditional classroom situation where a student is way in the back straining to see.”
Demming recalled how one marketing instructor, after teaching five classes over video, saw his students in person at a residential session. “He walked into the classroom, looked at the students there and told them, ‘It seems odd to say this, but you all seem so far away. I can’t see you as clearly as I do when I’m in the studio teaching class.’”
Free-flowing interaction and collaboration makes a difference for students, said Demmings. “It’s interesting to hear how students in different regions look at problems or topics differently. You can look at a particular ad or marketing campaign and hear a very different outlook on it from the Calgary team than you might from Austin or Monterrey. You wouldn’t get that in a regional MBA program. It’s only by conducting these classes over video that this happens.”
Collaborating naturally also requires a video experience that’s reliable and easy to use. The CQEMBA Program’s infrastructure is built on the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform, open standards-based video infrastructure that enables students and teachers to access simple, secure, HD quality universal video collaboration in any work or classroom environment, using any type of device or system. Another key component is Polycom® RealPresence® Media Manager software, which allows Demmings and his team to record classes and make them available to students who want to catch up on classes they missed or simply review material on their own time.
The Power of Face-to-Face
“Polycom makes it easy, both for users and for us as system administrators,” said Demmings. “We just upgraded our remote classrooms to HD, and we’re already hearing from students about the difference HD video and audio make in their learning experience. It just brings them closer to the instructor and the content.”
CQEMBA students are seeing benefits beyond the cost savings and convenience of not having to commute. Students view their class sessions as powerful networking opportunities, and some CQEMBA participants who first met over video have since launched new businesses together.
The CQEMBA Program may not be a start-up – it was launched in 2005 with 17 U.S. students and 50 in Canada – but enrollment has swelled by 138 percent since and today the program is thriving. Since the CQEMBA Program can go anyplace served by the Internet, CQEMBA is on the move. In the past year, the program extended its reach to Monterrey, Mexico, and Bogota, Colombia, and the universities are looking to branch out even more.
“This model is very efficient because it allows us to expand the reach of the program and increase our enrollment without having to build new facilities,” Demmings said. “All we have to do is scale our Polycom RealPresence infrastructure and video systems, and that’s easy.”