CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 26, 2000




Getting together are GAMBA classmates (left to right) Rafael Farias (Ecuador), Alemayehu Asfaw (Canada) and Jean-Marc Trottier (Canada).

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 across Canada.

The program, co-sponsored by IATA (the Montreal-based International Aviation Transport Association), is a program with essentially the same academic content as Concordia’s eight-year-old International Aviation MBA (IAMBA) program.

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 Faculty’s 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 Concordia’s 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 student’s 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 IAMBA’s 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 program’s first four courses,” Dicks said.

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 don’t 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 area.”