Guttenplan, D. (2010) Poking, Tagging and Now Landing an M.B.A. New York Times, November 28
The above article is a somewhat confusing report on The London School of Business and Finance’s offering of MBA materials through Facebook.
Founded in 2003 (and not to be confused with the highly prestigious and much older London School of Economics), the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) currently has 15,000 fee-paying students and locations in London, Birmingham and Manchester in Britain and Toronto in Canada offering programs in marketing, finance, business law and a variety of accounting certifications. The LSBF is a for-profit organization, with an agreement with the University of Wales (a recognized UK university) for the award of its degrees.
The school has been offering an Online MBA through its Moodle open-source software, which allows students all over the world to access lecture videos, course materials, e-books, notes, quizzes and tests, interactive case studies, and collaborative Web-conferences. The cost of this online MBA is $23,000 (£14,500).
My understanding (although it’s not clear from the article) is that potential students can now interact with the online MBA materials without a fee in a Facebook application. If they wish to take the exams, then there is a fee. To participate, you have to agree to allow the LSBF access to your Facebook personal information (including friends). The application already has more than 30,000 active users accessing courses in corporate finance, accounting, ethics, marketing and strategic planning, according to the business school.
My views on this are clouded by my dislike of Facebook’s corporate ethics, which is why I deactivated my Facebook account some time ago (although I had to reactivate it to look at the LSBF site, but then was not allowed in because I did not agree to my personal data – including friend contacts – being passed to LSBF). So as always, there’s no free lunch, and in any case you still have to pay the fee for the exam.
However, there is a useful value proposition close to what LSBF is doing. State and public universities could for instance do the same (with or without Facebook) by making their course materials open, but charging tuition for instruction and assessment.
I’d be interested in other people’s comments on this initiative by the LSBF. Is this just another form of privatization, another scam, or, given the global demand for graduate education, is this a really useful service? And should public institutions be going in the same direction? Over to you.