Some incoming PTOH students may feel nervous about an MBA online. Let’s hear from current PTOH students on what Tepper’s virtual collaboration is really like.

What virtual collaboration tools do you use at Tepper?

  • Tepper uses Vidyo, a videoconferencing system, and Canvas, an education platform, to host exams, lecture videos, case prompts, homework problems, etc.

  • We also use the Google suite of products, particularly Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.

  • When we want to share files or collaborate in group work we use Slack and WhatsApp.

What do you like and don’t like about these virtual collaboration tools?

  • Canvas, Vidyo, and Slack all have mobile platforms for those of us on the go

  • I like the convenience of Canvas. It links to Google Drive, too.

  • When you’re in a class on Vidyo you only see about 8 other people. The professor can see everyone in the class, though, so they can call on people and answer questions when you raise your hand.

  • I love Google tools because we can all be editing simultaneously. We bounce ideas off each other and edit the same document. It’s more efficient in that way. Unfortunately, Google Sheets is limited for some accounting and finance formulas.

  • Slack is excellent for collaborating in classes. We can share study guides and solutions sheets.

How do you collaborate virtually?

  • Currently we have a group for Lean Entrepreneurship that we have to make an investor pitch and present to the class. Last night we were working simultaneously on Vidyo and just talking to each other about the slides, asking for feedback and suggesting content.

  • Meeting face-to-face in the program is easier on Vidyo. We all have it. It’s not that much difference from in-person.

  • WhatsApp communications are more fun chats that are non-school related. We send each other silly things and jokes between Access Weekends.

What is it like to collaborate virtually at Tepper?

  • It’s something we’re used to. Everywhere there are employees that work remotely or people that live in different countries and time zones. It is definitely different and took some time to get used to. Now, however, it feels like we are all in the same room when we meet.

  • Working virtually allows you to work around schedules. PTOH students with children may want to work later in the evening. It’s also flexible for people that travel frequently for work. I was even able to connect from a boat or just before boarding an airplane.

How well does the Tepper Community adapt to the PTOH model of virtual collaboration?

  • Many professors have done virtual classes for a while. Occasionally there are professors that’re new and don’t know how to annotate slides or how to setup Canvas.  So, there may be hiccups like assignments getting released early or lectures being out of order. But nothing affecting our learning.  Overall, professors are really embracing it.

  • The professors do a phenomenal job working virtually! Classes almost always feel as natural as in person, and sometimes the interaction is even more personal. They also do a great job having office hours at non-traditional times, which is greatly appreciated.

  • The MCC Counselors and Communication Coaches can also adjust for online students, you just need to let them know you’re PTOH because their booking system is setup for full-time and PTOC, so they’ll sit and wait for you in their office if you don’t tell them you need a teleconference.

Has the PTOH program’s model of virtual collaboration helped in your professional work or personal lives at all?

  • We like to collaborate at Tepper and we make the effort to see each other. We could just have a phone call, but we want to stay engaged and stay focused.  It feels more personal!

  • You do have to be disciplined to collaborate virtually. You’re working remotely with group projects and you have to ensure you do your piece of the project.

Do you have any memorable experience collaborating virtually?

  • There are delays in Vidyo from time to time and people are quick to take pictures of you frozen and looking silly. We keep the humor going!

  • Pets show up in class. My dog sleeps on the bed and will just jump over to my desk.

  • I was dog watching once, and people kept telling me he was staring at me from behind at the top of the stairs and I didn’t even realize.

  • It always makes me smile when family members make unintended appearances, as I get a glimpse into my classmates’ life outside of school, so we really get to know each other well.

What are your thoughts on Tepper’s online model?

  • Overall, Tepper has done a great job at early online MBA adoption, and the experience has been great with the way groups interact. And the tools and strategies they arm us with have taken us pretty far in allowing us to be collaborative.

  • Just being able to see the person is a big factor. You maintain relationships that you build from Access Weekends.

  • Working virtually is a key skill for the modern workplace. If it’s new to you or causes some skepticism, the PTOH program is a great place to learn and have your fears squelched.

Thank you to all of the Tepper students who collaborated on this post!

Eric Burroughs

Kelly Carney

Benjamin Handwerk

Roger Harris

Matthew Moschel

Chris Loya

Andrew Solomon

Tomasz Szostek

Heather Valdez

Shoshana Rubinstein

Senior Quality Engineer at Pratt & Whitney
Shoshana Rubinstein joined the Tepper Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA in 2018 and focuses in operations management. She holds a bachelor's degree in Industrial & Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After graduating in three years, Shoshana went on to join the United Technologies Company’s Operations Leadership Program and spent two years in three rotations of manufacturing leadership, supply chain management, and quality control. Now, she has increasing responsibility in Pratt & Whitney’s Columbus Forge Blades quality department. Shoshana can be found hiking with friends and stress-baking various cookies and pies; she particularly loves serving Apple Pi Pie on March 14. She frequently donates time (in her local community), money (to her alma mater and cancer research), blood (with the American Red Cross), and hair (four times with Locks for Love).

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