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technology by Owen P. Hall Jr. Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Peter Drucker said those words in 1997. Today, we are about halfway through the timeframe of Drucker's prediction, and while university campuses are not yet relics, it's clear that their boundaries are changing. More than 70 AACSB-accredited business schools now offer online and hybrid programs, and that number is growing. But how will online and hybrid learning shape the future of business schools? That question has led to the creation of the Management Education Collaboration Network (MECNET) at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. As a cloud-based, peer-to-peer collaborative network, MECNET will connect educators, administrators, and researchers and provide them with access to the latest trends, data, and developments in Internet-based learning on a larger, more global scale. In 2010, the Graduate Management Admission Council launched its Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Challenge, a part of the GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund. So far, the MET Fund has awarded more than US$7.1 million in i2i grants to 12 organizations in six countries. Pepperdine won a $60,000 grant from the MET Fund to design MECNET. To assess the needs of business schools, Pepperdine surveyed faculty, administrators, associations, and research institutions—more than 100 responded. Of those, 91 percent believe that Internet-based learning technologies are important to their institution's mission, 85 percent think that online learning tools can create efficiencies in teaching, and 84 percent believe these tools can improve student learning. Ninety-six percent also indicated that educators need formal training to implement new learning technologies, while 76 percent thought a collaborative network would help them identify best practices. Respondents also identified key challenges of imple- 54 July/August 2013 BizEd menting MECNET. How will MECNET help educators adapt approaches developed in other parts of the world? Will it include data collection and analytics tools? Will MECNET be supported by institutional subscriptions, grant funding, or another financial model? We are addressing those challenges as we construct the network. In many respects, the use of online technologies to promote learning and collaboration among students has far outpaced the use of these technologies to promote collaboration among educators. But we are seeing this pattern change. For instance, Columbia University has started building a network of research institutes designed for faculty and students from various disciplines to collaborate with universities, government agencies, and other organizations abroad. Similarly, we believe a cloud-based knowledge-exchange portal like MECNET will promote collaboration among faculty, provide university leaders with a sounding board for critical policy issues, and drive educational innovation. And, as educators become more comfortable teaching in the cloud, students will have more opportunities to engage in virtual internships, connect to real-world business, work on global study teams, and enroll in specialty courses offered by universities worldwide. Universities will save money, rely less on travel, and use fewer printed materials, reducing the environmental footprint of higher education. Hybrid and online learning is a new frontier. As the technology continues to evolve, we hope that MECNET will facilitate the ability of business educators to deliver world-class online education. Owen P. Hall Jr. holds the Julian Virtue Professorship and is a professor of decision sciences at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management in Los Angeles, California. He leads the MECNET project. For information, visit why-gmac/giving-back-met-fund/pepperdine.aspx. Those interested in participating in the project's next phase can contact the organizers at G ETTY I MAG ES Shaping Education's Future in the Cloud

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