In the last decade, technology has become as important for students pursuing a graduate degree in business as traditional disciplines of finance, marketing and accounting.

After all, those MBA candidates will enter a world where virtually every industry has been brought into existence, transformed or upended by advancements in technology.

Take, for example, an aspiring banker.  Certainly the evergreen issues of interest rates and balance-sheet management remain, but more of the bank’s customers may be making deposits and transferring funds on their phones than they did in 2000. How does that affect an institution's  strategic plan? An MBA coming in better have a pretty good idea how to answer that, which means being well-versed in technology.

At Valparaiso University, technology isn’t just part of the MBA curriculum – it’s also becoming a bigger part of how that education is disseminated.

Recognizing the need for flexibility for its growing ranks of part-time MBA candidates, Valpo offers MBA Live, a tech-enabled program to keep students involved with the material at hand and the classroom dynamic even when they can’t be there.

MBA Live is available as a distance learning backup plan to students in Valpo’s part-time professional MBA program, which features six start dates, eight-week terms, weekly classes that meet at night and GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) waivers — all geared toward working professionals.

“We understand that as working adults with families, our part-time students may not always be able to attend in person,” says Cindy Scanlan, director of Graduate Programs in Management. “Valpo began offering all MBA courses with MBA Live in 2010 for unexpected circumstances such as illness, work travel or relocation.”

While posting classroom materials online has become an educational staple from elementary school to graduate programs, MBA Live seeks to take the distance learning experience to another level by bringing students into the classroom in real time. MBA Live users can interact with the professor, view presentation materials and participate in small-group work with fellow students, allowing for the kind of teamwork and key collaborative efforts upon which most MBA programs are built.

“MBA Live offers the flexibility of attending remotely, with minimum technology requirements,” Scanlan explains. “With a live camera, microphone and internet connection, students can actively participate with the instructor and classmates in real time, including class discussions and presentations.”

Though the MBA Live program is a great way for students who cannot attend class to be virtually present, it is also helpful for any student who just wants to review a session, because every class is recorded and available to watch on demand.

Rather than a replacement for live classroom instruction and interaction, however, Valpo promotes MBA Live as a technology-enabled solution to better fit a graduate degree into the lives of busy professionals. The goal, as Scanlan sees it, is simple — to improve the MBA experience. After all, if MBA students are going to need to learn so much about technology to succeed in the business world , they may as well be able to benefit from it along the way.

“If MBA Live can help working professionals complete their Valpo MBA while balancing work and family, we think it’s well worth offering,” she says.