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Friday, July 13, 2018

First class excels in “hybrid” master’s program | MIT News

"Experimental degree combining online MicroMasters and residential learning sees great success" inform David Chandler, Institute Writer, MIT News Office.

In the online five-course program, which led to an MIT MicroMasters certificate after completion of a rigorous online exam, 1,900 students completed all the classes, and 622 successfully completed the final exam. Forty-two of the students ended up starting the residential semester in January of this year.
Photo: Courtesy of the MIT MicroMasters program

he first students to graduate from MIT’s cutting-edge “hybrid” master’s program, which combines a year’s worth of online learning through its MicroMasters program with one semester on campus to earn a full MIT master’s degree, have not only met all expectations, they ended up performing as well as and being virtually indistinguishable from traditional students in their overall performance. 

There was some initial trepidation among the MIT faculty, recalls Yossi Sheffi, the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, and director of the master’s program in supply chain management. People wondered, “Will they be as good?” as the traditional students, he says. Now that the first blended class has completed the program, “The answer is they are as good and, in many cases, even better!” he says. 

Sheffi is not at all surprised. This new set of students, who might never have been able to make it to MIT through traditional channels, faced obstacles that typical residential masters students may not. “They have spent about 18 months, usually on nights and weekends, going over tough assignments in MIT-level classes,” Sheffi says. “They have to do it on their own, after work and family obligations, at the end of the day. It shows their commitment, tenacity, and dedication. These are as important, and even more important, than something like intelligence.”...

One of the course instructors, MIT Senior Lecturer Jonathan Byrnes, says that after 27 years of teaching in MIT’s SCM program, “My class this year was the strongest that I ever have taught.” He adds, “It is interesting to note that the SCM students were mostly from our new ‘blended’ program — web learning plus six months’ residence at MIT. They were extremely strong relative to the other MIT students I have taught over the years.” 

Others who taught in the program shared that view. “The blended learning students were top of the class,” says Richard Pibernik, who taught at one of the program’s two satellite campuses (in Zaragoza, Spain; the other is in Malaysia). “They were well-prepared, had good knowledge of all the relevant concepts, and seemed more mature and serious. That was a very positive surprise; before, I was somewhere between curious and skeptical about how they would do.”  

Source: MIT News