An instructor’s take on TMMBA’s new blended format: “It’s the best of both worlds”

Lance YoungIt has been one year since the Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program at the Foster School of Business announced its new blended learning model as part of its 18-month, work-compatible schedule. The blended schedule combines TMMBA’s exceptional in-person, classroom-based learning with Foster’s world-class hybrid online learning. This best-of-both-worlds approach offers technology professionals the fastest route to a Foster MBA with a schedule that accommodates a school-work-life balance.

We recently spoke with Lance Young, Principal Lecturer of Finance and Business Economics, about his experience teaching in the TMMBA Program’s blended model.

What do you teach in the TMMBA Program?

I feel lucky to teach two courses in the TMMBA Program – a four-credit Corporate Financial Strategy in year one and a two-credit Entrepreneurial Finance in year two. The first-year course is taught in a hybrid format, and the second is the traditional in-person type of class.

Do you prefer one style of teaching over the other?

If you would have asked me this question five or six years ago, I would have said that I prefer the traditional classroom setting, but now I find both the in-person and hybrid formats to be equally conducive in meeting my goals as an instructor and for meeting the learning goals of the students. We’ve learned a lot in the past few years, and I think anything can be taught well in either format, and more importantly that students can learn, contribute, and engage with both formats. The hybrid courses are developed with a team of instructional designers and video specialists so I feel 100% confident in the end-product and know that it will meet Foster’s high standards for quality. In the end, I want my students to have a sophisticated level of strategic awareness and application of financial concepts — and both learning formats meet these goals.

How does your course work in the TMMBA blended format?

I’ve been teaching in the TMMBA Program for over ten years and I’m super excited to be engaging with the students in the hybrid format. A hybrid course is delivered both in-person and online. Basically, we kickoff Corporate Financial Strategy with two, 3-hour in-person class sessions and then we move to online course work that is comprised of recorded video content, thought-provoking discussions, individual assignments, and team-based case study work. Think of it as a more flipped-classroom approach. Students are required to move through the content and meet me in live Zoom sessions three times during the remainder of the quarter.

Tell us more about your live Zoom sessions.

Let me start by saying the live Zoom sessions are not live “lectures.” We refer to them as Foster Live sessions and during these 2-hour Zoom meetings we delve into that week’s case study. While I do some talking, I am more of a facilitator as students take the stage to share their thoughts on a case. It really is quite engaging and interactive – I love hearing various perspectives. I can tell from the body language on the screen that students are really into the discussion. Sometimes we run over, it is so lively, but of course I try not to let it.

During the Foster Live sessions, I know many instructors will use breakout rooms or polls for variety. It is great to be able to pop into a breakout room and listen in on the discussion; although, it does go silent for a few seconds as they adjust to the instructor being in their private space. Usually there is a good chuckle before they continue their discussion. When I have used breakout rooms, I usually ask for a representative to give a report back to the class so we can all learn from each other. I feel like the online aspect really adds to the class dynamic.

How do you think students benefit from the blended learning structure?

Honestly, I think students get the best of both worlds. By blending in-person with hybrid, students get a schedule that is super conducive for students working full-time. Plus, the blend of formats gives students the ability to learn and contribute using different methods instead of a one-size fits all approach. Another thing I would add is that I am here for students no matter what – this blended format does not change this fact!

What advice do you have for prospective students who are unsure if the blended format is for them?

I say if you want a fast track to your Foster MBA, the TMMBA blended format is the way to go. The blended learning is a big plus, and it does not take away from the experience. It truly adds to the experience! The blended learning schedule is more convenient and allows students to integrate it seamlessly into their lives. It wasn’t an option when I got my Foster MBA, but if it had, I definitely would have considered it!!

Lance Young, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has received the 2011 PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching honor at the Foster School. The award is selected annually by a panel of MBA students.

Young joined the Foster School faculty in 2003, after earning a PhD in finance and an MS in applied statistics at the University of Rochester, an MBA at the UW Foster School of Business, and a BA in business administration from Washington State University, where he graduated summa cum laude.