New ICP Certificate Program Is Completely Online

Posted: October 8, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

Ramón Anria, an analyst for the World Bank and a student in the School of Public Policy’s International Commerce and Policy certificate program, Managing International Commerce, had to leave the country unexpectedly last fall because of a family emergency. A two-week absence from any other graduate course would have put Anria leagues behind other students. But because his program is taught completely online, he was able to participate in discussions from his laptop in Panama, “without any of my fellow students being the wiser.”

Though there has been an explosion in online programs over the past several years, the ICP program stands out for two reasons: it is highly interactive and its discussions are asynchronous. “There is a lot of online coursework out there, and frankly, most of it’s not that good,” says Jack High, School of Public Policy, who coordinates the certificate program and teaches some of its five required courses, which address subjects such as international finance, marketing, and strategic management. “Our program is designed to be interactive.”

The students enrolled in the program–employees of international firms, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies–discuss case studies, use interactive software, and engage in lively debates with their professors and fellow classmates just as they would if they were meeting face to face. “It’s not just a matter of going online and reading your assignments,” says High. “Students do their reading off line and then the discussion, and most of the learning, takes place online.”

When students post their answers to an assigned question, others in the class can praise, criticize, or amplify their thoughts. Schedules and time zones are of no concern–because the discussions are asynchronous, students do not have to be online at the same time, says High.

High and Don Lavoie, another professor in the School of Public Policy, have teamed together to apply this innovative style of online learning to the certificate program. If it is successful, they hope to offer a master’s degree in international commerce online.

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