Bringing the Classroom Experience Online

Find out how EMDC students are learning from one another, even if they are on different sides of the world.

Texas. California. Qatar.

What is the common connection — other than warm climates?

Each location is currently represented by a student in the Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program at Northwestern Engineering. Since the program began with its online program, it's become possible for aspiring design and construction leaders from across the country and around the globe to connect and learn with one another while earning an advanced degree.

"Having the program online gives more people the opportunity to get involved," said program director Raymond Krizek. "The reality is that most people currently taking our courses would not be able to take them if they weren't offered online."

EMDC was vetted as an in-person, part-time program for its first two years. It wasn't until the Fall Quarter of 2016 that it was offered exclusively online. While the teaching platform changed, the goal of having students learn from innovative industry leaders remained. This is accomplished through a synthesized sequence of video lectures and interactive webinars.

EMDC is a 12-course program, and this combination of video recordings and live discussions exists in each course. Students typically take two courses per quarter, and routinely, it is the webinars that become the most memorable and most impactful aspects of each course.

First off, think of the webinars as a large group conversation as opposed to a single presenter lecturing to the class. These interactive chats are requirements for each course, and it allows students to connect with one another and the course professor as if they were in the same room.

"The interactive sessions simulate the classroom experience," Krizek said. "So far, that has worked very well."

The interactive sessions vary in their content and format, which again mimics an in-classroom experience. There are guest speakers. There are student group presentations. Most importantly, there are conversations between and among classmates, many of whom are already some of the brightest in their industry.

It's that peer connection, coupled with the flexibility and structure of the program, that makes EMDC a worthwhile and memorable experience for its students, Krizek said. The program has grown in popularity since it went online. Krizek thinks it will only become more revered in the future.

"I'm expecting this program to grow," Krizek said. "In my opinion, there is nothing but good news ahead."