Marshall’s Online MBA Program Takes Top Honors for Production and Instructional Design

When the Online Master of Business Administration (OMBA) at USC Marshall launched just over a year ago, the burgeoning world of digital educational design took notice. Already known for its classroom-based MBA programs, Marshall quickly gained prominence as a central destination for innovation at the forefront of digital business education. Today, the OMBA program continues to receive accolades, most recently bringing home numerous awards for excellence in production and instructional design.

Among the honors was a prestigious Davey Award, given by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, which celebrates the best in web, design, video, advertising, mobile and social from small agencies around the globe.

The award, says Jerry Whitfield, associate director of media technologies, recognized a video series called “Big Ideas in Economics” featuring Kevin Murphy, Kenneth L. Trefftzs Chair in Finance and professor of finance and economics.

“One of the challenges with online is making the content visually stimulating,” said Whitfield. “We want our students to feel immersed in the material, and all of us – cameras, editors and studio operators – collaborate with our instructional designers and instructors to ensure we are producing video that maximizes student engagement.”

“Big Ideas,” Whitfield continues, is a prime example, leveraging diverse tools to capture and maintain students’ attention. The series incorporates historical photos and film footage, animation and even a scene from television’s Modern Family to illustrate TANSTAAFL, the economic theory popularly known as “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

“Big Ideas” also garnered Marshall two People’s Tellys (the premier award for the best in TV and cable, digital and streaming, and non-broadcast productions), including in the online video (education) category. The honor is not easily earned: Each year, entries in the People’s Tellys receive an average of 125,000 views, with international viewers using a five-star rating system to determine the winners.

The OMBA has also achieved distinction from the Online Learning Consortium for its model of an integrated, online MBA curriculum. The award honors the program’s instructional designers, who presented an information session about the curriculum at the consortium’s 21st annual international conference.

“We were tasked with the design and development of a multi-disciplinary course with four subject-matter experts,” recalls Kimberly Brower, associate director of instructional design.

The results speak for themselves. “We set out to develop an online curriculum that would provide our students with an exceptional learning experience,” said Phil Griego, assistant dean of online learning. “I’m pleased our team received this well-deserved recognition for its outstanding work.”

Marshall’s OMBA has been ranked as the number one private online MBA program by the Online MBA Report and was recently ranked as the 12th best online MBA program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. “We just pinched ourselves when the ranking came out because we know how much work went into it,” Whitfield says. “To get that kind of recognition for a brand-new program is pretty amazing.”