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Technological Requirements and Tools for an Online MBA

29 May
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The internet has expanded educational access for everyone, which means you no longer have to move across the country to get a master's business administration (MBA) from a top university. You can learn from the convenience of your own home, on your own schedule. However, to get the best results, you’ll need the right technology to take advantage of the available opportunities in your online MBA program.

This article will cover the digital skills and online MBA technology you’ll need to succeed in your program.

Overview of Online MBA Programs

Before we cover the tech tools that you'll need to succeed, we first must establish a solid understanding of an MBA. MBA degrees are highly regarded and widely known for their significant impact on MBA graduates' business knowledge and career development. Through a series of in-depth courses, you can gain impressive knowledge in finance, accounting, marketing, business strategy, project management, human resources, organizational behavior and much more. This will give you a plethora of transferable skills to move into a variety of industries, or will help you advocate for a promotion in your current position.

MBA programs also offer invaluable networking opportunities as it immediately puts you in contact with other working professionals, faculty and alumni from advanced collegiate schools. Even if you take online MBA courses, you still will be able to meet with and grow your professional contacts through online and in-person events.

Hardware Requirements

You don’t need the newest or most powerful computer for an online MBA program, but you do need a reliable, up-to-date laptop. The best hardware for online MBA students should include an Intel i5 processor or better, a 256-gigabyte hard drive or more, eight gigabytes of random-access memory or more and the most recent Windows or MacOS operating system.

You’ll need a stable and fast internet connection to access all of your class information, class assignments, and other online resources for your online MBA. At a minimum, you need a broadband connection with download speeds of 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of three megabits per second. However, the more people you have in your household using devices simultaneously, the higher the speed you’ll need. With a fast internet connection, you’ll be able to smoothly stream live lectures and quickly upload your assignments. You’ll also be able to participate in any live class discussions, if that’s a component of your program, without frustrating interruptions or delays.1

Some online MBA programs offer mobile apps or optimized websites for smartphones and tablets so students can learn on the go. If you’re using such a device for your classes, you’ll get the best results from an up-to-date operating system that supports the latest educational apps and research tools.2

Software Tools

Online MBA programs use a variety of software platforms to facilitate learning. Check your program requirements to find out the specifics, but most use some or all of the following types of software:

  • Learning management system (LMS): Platforms like Canvas, Blackboard and Moodle are the central hub for course materials, assignments, grades and feedback3
  • Communication platform: For real-time interaction, students use tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These tools enable live video lectures, group projects and one-on-one meetings with faculty and peers4
  • Productivity software: Microsoft Office offers comprehensive applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint to create documents and presentations and analyze data. Google Workspace provides a similar suite of tools that also facilitate seamless online collaboration5

Tech Skills for Success

You’ll learn many tech skills as part of your online program, but you should already have some basic skills before you start, including the following:

  • Digital literacy: You should understand how to use an LMS, be able to work with different file formats and know how to access academic databases and resources. You should also know how to evaluate the credibility of online resources5
  • Time management with online tools: Calendar apps such as Google Calendar and task management software such as Trello or Asana can help you keep track of your assignment deadlines, exams and meetings6
  • Troubleshooting common tech issues: Your university will have an information technology (IT) department, but you’ll still need some basic troubleshooting skills to reduce your downtime and frustration. This includes knowing how to update software, troubleshoot common connectivity issues and adjust the video and audio settings on communication platforms7

Cybersecurity Awareness

Since much of your learning and communication will occur over the internet, you need to practice good cyber hygiene to keep your data secure and your hardware and software safe from hackers. Make sure you’re secure by connecting to a virtual private network (VPN) when using a public or unsecured Wi-Fi network. A VPN encrypts data traffic, which helps safeguard information from cyber threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Make sure the websites you visit are secure by looking for “HTTPS” in the URL before you submit any sensitive information online.8

Follow these best practices to keep your data and information systems safe:9

  • Use long, complex passwords that combine letters, numbers and special characters, and consider using a password manager to securely keep track of them
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of security
  • Update your software regularly, including operating systems, applications and antivirus programs, to protect against the latest security vulnerabilities
  • Be cautious about sharing personal information online, especially on social media
  • Be on guard against phishing attacks by carefully checking emails and links before clicking anything

Accessibility Considerations

Though online programs are often more accessible than traditional classrooms, they should always follow tech accessibility standards to make sure all students, regardless of their abilities, have equal opportunities to succeed.10

Online programs must provide appropriate accommodations to support learners with disabilities. This includes offering transcripts and closed captions for videos to aid those with hearing impairments, and providing screen-reader-friendly content for visually impaired students. Online programs should also provide adjustable text sizes and compatible content for assistive technologies like screen enlargers. Students with learning disabilities may need accommodations such as extended time for assignments and exams as well.10

Inclusivity takes the concept of accessibility a step further. It includes designing course materials that are universally accessible from the start. This means using clear, simple language, providing alternative text for images and making sure interactive tools don’t rely solely on color distinction, which can be difficult for color-blind users to navigate. An inclusive design should consider various learning styles by integrating multiple forms of content presentation, such as text, audio and visual aids.10

Easy, Convenient Learning With an Online MBA

If you’re ready to advance your career, William & Mary’s Online MBA gives you the convenience of learning on your own schedule from anywhere. The world-class faculty is ready to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to become a global leader. With our rigorous curriculum, you’ll be prepared for the challenges of leading modern businesses.

Reach out to one of the admissions outreach advisors for more information.