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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sher Downing, Executive Director of Online Academic Services at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Mar 21st 2014

Much is changing in the world of education. Universities are becoming large scale providers in online learning. Arizona State University is at the fore of this trend, running one of the largest business programs online.

Sramana Mitra: Sher, let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to what’s happening at the Business School at Arizona State University.

Sher Downing: The W.P. Carey School of Business, which is at Arizona State University, is one of the largest business schools in the nation. This year, we have around 11,000 students in various business tracks that are both face-to-face as well as online. We also have some pure online degrees that we are doing across the globe. We focus on developing the ideal that business is personal. We want people to come out of our school with a real sense of entrepreneurship and ability to do a lot of different things in their lives. We want to give them the toolset that helps them become successful both at our undergraduate and graduate programs. We have highly ranked masters degrees that are available to students both on ground and online. Our online graduate program is ranked number two in the nation this year. We try to give people the opportunity to learn and utilize everything possible to make them successful in their careers.

My background is in Instructional Design for Online Learning and IT. I’ve had over 25 years experience in higher education and have spent the last 16 years launching hybrid, online, and differently packaged programs that provide students an opportunity to excel in their career and education while maintaining their work-life balance.

Sramana Mitra: Of the 11,000 students that you were talking about, can you give us a little bit of a granular understanding of how many are undergraduates and graduate students. What’s happening to these people once they leave? What kind of careers are they going on to?

Also, you said you had a lot of people in different countries, how does your international program work? Give us a bit more color on the student body.

Sher Downing: Our graduate programs in Masters in Business Administration, Masters in Science and Information Management, and our Masters in Business Analytics have both on-campus and online programs. What we draw from there are mid-management professionals – people who maybe looking at moving up in their career. We see a lot of students in those programs who are already employed or, at least, are in the field that they want to be in. They need to take that next step forward. They want to broaden their understanding of the business sector. They want to have that deep level of rich background in Finance and International Business, Policy Management, Leadership, and Organization.

We really draw from all over the globe, particularly for online courses. We also have a sector of students that are corporate clients. These are people who have a corporation and want to advance their career within that sector. They are on a track to move forward in their career and are looking at how to take and apply what they’re learning in the classroom in the real world.

We have 3,000 graduate students and the remaining 8,000 students are undergraduates.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sher Downing, Executive Director of Online Academic Services at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
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