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Prague College goes the distance for its Business students

by Alex Went, on 28 July 2015 10:32:51 CEST

We talk to Larry Koch about distance learning and its advantages for all kinds of students, especially those who enjoy embarking on new challenges.

For much of his working life, Larry Koch has enjoyed a successful career in public accounting working with audits, reviews and compilations of financial statements, as well as preparing tax returns for individual, corporate and non-profits. But he is better known to several generations of Prague College students as the driving force behind the distance learning programme for Business students.

Since 1995, Larry has been a much-valued adjunct instructor for Navarro College in Texas. But when his wife took a job as a music teacher in Prague and later in Singapore, he realized a new approach would have to be found to enable him to continue educating his students in the US. Already highly knowledgeable about international business education, this was an opportunity for Larry to develop his interest in global distance learning. In his own words, 'It was time to give back'.

Arriving in Prague in 2006, Larry pioneered our current approach of maintaining close contact with students via distance learning, while still running projects and giving in-depth personal feedback. With his expertise and experience in the world of accounting and business-related subjects, distance learning has provided Larry with a way to continue teaching even when it is not possible to have face-to-face contact.

Distance learning can be blend of number of platforms, for example a text-based workbook with online grading, dedicated online platforms such as Moodle, video, shared presentations, and voice or Skype calls. Video is particularly helpful for students for whom English is not their first language, as they can pause the video to look up a word. Time management and self-discipline are greatly improved through the requirement to attend timed assessments, and assignments include a blend of theory and applied learning.

Larry is convinced of the overall benefits of this kind of learning: ‘The quality of work is often of a higher standard than that of more traditional students,’ he says. ‘Research is often better and not held back by being too tied to the lecture topic. Distance learning also increases reading comprehension - and there’s a lot less distraction from other students. This, and the obvious benefits that come from using new technology.’

Does he feel worried about the plethora of Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs) that are now becoming very popular? ‘Not really. With Moocs, completion rates are very low because there’s no real incentive. Are students really interested in these courses?. Moocs are better for postgraduates. The difference with my sort of distance learning is that it’s tied to a physical college, with its variety of learning methods. It’s not for everyone, but for enquiring students or those who respond enthusiastically to a challenge, it’s excellent.’

When Larry started at Prague College, two modules were available at distance. Now that number has increased to eight. And many of the modules in the forthcoming BA in International Business Management are specifically designed around Distance Learning modules. To find out more about this new flexible course specifically designed for working professionals, people on the move, or those looking after a young family, please visit the programme page here.



Topics:School of BusinessInternational Outreach