Are students better off without tests?

Education 5
The advantages of doing
an MBA program online
Questions linger over
ministry’s plan for test-free
semester in middle schools
By Sascha Liebhardt
“No! It’s not long-distance learning – although it might be a long
distance.” This statement best describes the biggest misunderstanding or, rather, misconception about
online education. Although it is
location-independent, it has nothing to do with the, entirely selfstudy-based long-distance learning
of the past.
Online education, and especially
online MBA programs, delivers
broad and interactive learning experiences that can be considered a
viable alternative to location-based
traditional education.
To explain the virtues of online
education, it is best to look at the
intangible expectations, and
EDUCATION thus challenges,
of an online
MBA. Reputation and networking spring to
mind immediately: Will an online
MBA have the same value to employers? And will an online MBA
give me the access to a strong and
useful professional network?
When examined closely, both
questions are rather irrelevant. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey
of Internet Education, 66 percent
of academic leaders consider online
education as good as or better than
traditional education. Furthermore,
the chances are that someone doing an online MBA is working at
the same time, thus not only taking the burden of work but also of
studying on their shoulders. What
better signal of a highly motivated
individual is there to the employer
or a potential employer?
Concerning networking, apart
from a few exceptional business
schools, choosing your business
school based on the possibility of
joining a network seems outdated.
First of all, those people you’re
studying with must graduate in
order for them to be able to use
the network, and secondly, what
about the networks you already
have access to? How much are you
making use of them? Well, if you
are not, it is questionable that the
MBA network will make any difference.
Now that we have ruled out this
dilemma, it is best to take a short
look at how an online MBA is
structured. There are basically two
types of programs being offered:
All-online programs — these
make all the course content available online, which means that students never have to attend classes
on a physical campus.
Combination programs – these
are a mixture of distance learning
coupled with classroom learning.
Various courses can be completed
entirely online, while other courses
must be taken in a campus-based
What about the pros and cons of
an online degree?
Online MBAs are normally
cheaper, but these too can range
from as little as $3,000 a year to as
Are students better off without tests?
By Oh Kyu-wook
Sascha Liebhardt
much as $30,000, or even more in
some cases. Looking on the bright
side, scholarships, low-interest
student loans or even financial aid
from employers are readily available.
Flexibility is also another great
advantage, especially for students
who are currently employed. The
student can study at any time from
any location and does not have to
quit their job or spend precious
hours commuting or sitting in
Lectures can be accessed at any
time, which means that very little
time is wasted waiting for professors or traveling through rushhour traffic. Most institutions offer
a form of electronic mentoring,
which makes it easy to communicate with lecturers and administration staff should problems or
questions arise.
Even though there are still some
employers who prefer candidates
with campus-based degrees, this
number is definitely on the decline.
On the other hand, the reputation of providers and the perceived
value of online MBAs are certainly
on the rise.
It goes without saying that the
online student must possess a high
level of self-discipline. After working for 10 hours, the student comes
home, the sun is shining, all their
friends are going to the bar to have
a good time, and this poor soul
must stay indoors and work on the
computer. This can be very frustrating at times.
Some potential students are put
off by the possibility of technical problems arising during online studies. However, these are
increasingly rare. If the student
invests in quality computing equipment, technical problems rarely occur.
In conclusion, here are some of
advantages to completing an online MBA compared to a campusbased one: A lot of online providers
offer exactly the same curriculum
as their campus-based competitors;
courses can be taken from any
location in the world, even when
traveling or on holiday; financial
support is readily available and on
the increase and the learning pace
is regulated by the student.
Also, you can learn as slowly or
quickly as you like, or even join
an accelerated program. The only
things you need are a computer
and a good Internet connection.
Sascha Liebhardt is a professor
of strategic management and dean
of the European University Business School in Munich. — Ed.
Korean middle schools will likely
have to scrap exams and offer a
freer curriculum for one semester
from 2016 under a government
reform plan geared to boost creativity and career readiness among
Bold as it may be in a country
where exam results determine
success in life, the “free-learning”
semester scheme is brewing controversy.
Parents are concerned about a
possible decline in academic ability.
Teachers are fretting about a lack
of programs to replace the standard curriculum. Some charge that
it will deepen educational gaps
without support for schools in poor
and rural areas.
The Education Ministry unveiled
the first outline of the plan last
month which has, for the first
time, middle schools omitting official exams for one semester.
During that period, students will
continue to learn major subjects including Korean, math and English.
But they will be free from tests
and instead spend time on career
exploration activities, according to
the ministry.
“The purpose of the free-learning
semester is to encourage young
students to explore career options
while reducing pressure from their
studies,” the ministry said.
As the first step, the ministry
has selected 42 schools across the
country to test-run the scheme in
the September semester. It will be
tried at another 40 schools next
spring and be made mandatory for
all middle schools in 2016.
The ministry is working with
various think tanks including
the state-run Korean Education
Development Institute to develop
programs and provide support for
It will also seek cooperation from
businesses, regional governments
and public institutions to help students experience work and think of
their future career.
The plan is welcomed by educators and experts in various fields
Middle school students from North Chungcheong Province attend cabin crew training during a work-experience
program. Yonhap News
as one of the most important overhauls in the Korean education system criticized for rote-learning at
the expense of critical thinking and
practical knowledge.
“I believe finding interests and
thinking more seriously about their
future careers are more important than studying math at their
age,” said Kim Seong-seop, vice
principal of Sunun Middle School
in Gwangju. Sunun is one of the
schools selected to test-run the system in September.
Critics are concerned about possible negative effects of the scheme.
Students will return to cutthroat
competition after the test-free hiatus to excel in exams to enter a
good university.
The plan’s possible negative impact on students’ academic ability
is that they will have no motivation to study and teachers will not
be able to check their academic
progress, they said.
Worried parents will rely more
on cram schools in stark contrast
to the government’s expectation
that the program would curb private education, they said.
Lack of structural conditions including a new curriculum, teaching
materials and external support will
pose other difficulties.
Training teachers for the change
will be another tough challenge,
according to Kim.
“We don’t have a teacher that
specializes in career consulting who
can advise students and design career education programs,” Kim said.
He expressed hopes that the government will provide trained career
Hong Ok-hee, vice principal of
Jamsil Middle School in Seoul, said
more support was necessary from
the government as well as from
companies and social enterprises
to help students explore various
career options.
“There are a number of companies offering work-experience training for students, and it seems okay
for now as there are only a handful of schools participating in the
free-learning scheme. But when
all middle schools join the scheme,
we’ll definitely need more support,”
she added.
Lee Ji-yeon, a senior research fellow from the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and
Training, called for government efforts to make it better understood
by educators, parents and students
and promote their voluntary engagement.
“The first thing the government
should do is to work more actively
to promote the new scheme and to
ease public concerns,” she added.
Education Minister Seo Nam-
soo described the free-learning semester scheme as a crucial part of
reform of Korea’s secondary education, which has failed to produce
human resources with the abilities
needed by businesses and society.
“Our current education system’s
major problem is that we make
students overly focus on college
entrance exams,” he said during a
press conference last month.
In Korea, nearly 7 out of 10 high
school graduates go to college or
university, the highest proportion
among advanced countries.
Yet, only 50 percent of college
graduates were employed fulltime in 2011, creating problems
such as an overqualified workforce,
shortages of skilled labor and mismatches between job seekers and
Despite the current controversy,
the minister insisted that the freelearning scheme was a first step in
changing the outdated education
system to “transform into a knowledge-based future society.”
Kim of Sunun Middle School
“In the short term, it is likely
that there may be a drawback for
students’ learning as tests motivate
students to study, but in the long
term I expect there will be more
benefits for them.”
BIS Canada offers full program in Korea
Located in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, the BIS Canada School is attracting a growing number of students with
its quality education programs and
strong English-learning environment.
The foreign school was founded
in 2008 as the first campus of an
overseas school in Korea certificated
by the British Columbia Ministry of
Education in Canada.
Every province in Canada has its
own curriculum with a ministry of
education. BIS Canada’s curriculum
comes directly from the BC Ministry
of Education, the school said.
The school currently offers the British Columbia curriculum from grades
1 to 11 and looks forward to its first
class of grade 12s graduating in 2014.
“BIS Canada’s mission is to offer
an outstanding Canadian-based education to Korean and international
students,” Seo Dong-young, CEO and
director of BIS Canada, said.
“We are committed to implementing the BC curriculum, with BC certified teachers, using the best teaching
practices for students in a nurturing
manner,” he added.
The school announced that it is now
accepting applications for the 2013-2014
year. For more information visit www. or call at (031) 8022-7114.
CEO and Director of BIS
Canada Seo Dong-young