by Barbara Black
The long-awaited Global Aviation
MBA (GAMBA) program was launched on October 14 with a first class of 10
students from all over the world Ecuador, Estonia, Ghana, India,
Italy, Mauritius, New Zealand, Switzerland and Trinidad, plus six from
The program, co-sponsored by IATA (the Montreal-based International Aviation
Transport Association), is a program with essentially the same academic
content as Concordias eight-year-old International Aviation MBA
The difference is in the way the program is delivered. The GAMBA format
was developed to meet the needs of professionals who want a graduate degree
in aviation management without leaving their full-time jobs.
The course requirements can be completed over two years with only a 12-day
visit to Montreal at the beginning of each of the four semesters. After
that, students will continue their studies from anywhere in the world
with follow-up instruction and full-time online support, thanks to a software
program that took nearly two years to design.
Takes distance education
to a new level
The program was developed in the Facultys Centre for Instructional
Technology, under the leadership of Dennis Dicks, manager Mary Genova
and a creative team of faculty and staff.
Dicks, who is also a professor in Concordias Education Technology
program, said that production of the GAMBA takes distance education to
a new and highly sophisticated level. They call it a Web-enabled
program; it comes fully loaded, all 60 credits and 12 courses, on a single
database. A viewer, which acts like a browser, constructs
individual courses by drawing from the database.
The pressure to produce a Cadillac-quality product was high. Like the
IAMBA program, GAMBA is funded entirely through tuition fees, which in
most cases is paid by the students employer. The fee for the two-year
program is about $40,000. That includes a laptop computer and textbooks
as back-up for each course.
GAMBA students receive their primary content on their laptops, and can
interact with the IAMBAs instructors via First Class, the internal
intranet service in the Faculty.
Each professor who was slated to teach in the program was assigned an
instructional designer in most cases, an Education Technology student
hired on contract and each teacher was encouraged to develop his
or her own approach to teaching with multimedia.
Economics Professor Bryan Campbell, for example, was an early enthusiast.
He chose to introduce his lessons with a brief personal appearance on
video. Other teachers were more cautious. Genova recalled one who began
with great trepidation but eventually came up with an attractive multimedia
course design and is now thrilled with the result.
Campbell and his colleagues, Professors Steven Appelbaum (Management),
Jamshid Etezadi (DS/MIS) and Maureen Gowing (Accounting) put a lot of
creative effort into the programs first four courses, Dicks
Having to produce all the course material at the beginning put professors
on their mettle no more preparing lessons at the very last minute.
The result is a program with strong content and great navigational capabilities,
including all sorts of bells and whistles.
We even supply a little scanner that runs off the laptop, so the
students dont have to copy long equations on the keyboard,
Genova said. The 60-credit program could be repackaged as four 15-credit
certificates, and the basic framework could be adapted to other MBA programs.
Concordia is one of the first schools to offer the major components of
a complete graduate aviation management program in distance-delivery format.
The authors of the initiative, however, are convinced that they are simply
moving along with the times in the aviation industry.
The need has been there for a while, judging from the number of
requests for a distance-type format we get from applicants to the IAMBA
program, said Professor Dale Doreen, who is the director of both
programs. Concordia is proud to be providing leadership in this