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Redesigning an Online Executive Master’s Class for a Large Number of Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Program and Curriculum Design Initiatives

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1032.1 - 24.1032.9



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Paper Authors


Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Malini Natarajarathinam is an Associate professor with the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. Dr. Natarajarathinam’s teaching activities surround classes in purchasing, distribution networks and strategic relationships. She strives to make learning fun, relevant and perpetual to her students. The students of the Industrial Distribution Program presented her the Award of Distinction in 2010. Dr. Natarajarathinam’s research interests include coordinated decision making in stochastic supply chains, handling supply chains during times of crisis and optimizing global supply chains. Her research articles have won best paper awards at Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators Conference and Society of Marketing Advances Conference. She currently serves on the Editorial advisory board for International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management. Dr. Natarajarathinam has worked on several research projects funded by government agencies and industry. She has a strong passion for student development. She is the founding faculty of the Society of Women in Industrial Distribution (SWID).

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Redesigning an online executive Master’s class for a large number of studentsDesigning an online class especially for a large number of executives and workingprofessionals is a challenge. The focus of the class moves more towards learningfrom teachingi. The class should be designed to have a high impact on thelearning but at the same time should be designed with the availability of thestudents. Common online education tools such as discussion boards and one-on-one conference calls become very cumbersome to manage given the number ofthe students and the availability of the students. Grading and giving feedback attimely fashion is still very important as this helps the students learn from thefeedback they receive and build on it. This poses a challenge on how to design thelearning and assessment activities in the class.The course should be made personal to all students such that they can reap themaximum benefit from higher education. In any online class, the teacher isexpected more to be a mentor and facilitator. In a formal classroom setting, it isrelatively easier for the teacher to get the students involved, engaged and activeii.It is very important to engage students in an online class and also making thestudents accountable for the learning. These two tasks become more challengingwhen the number of students is large and no formal contact hours.In Fall 2013, the class on Strategic distributor relationships for the onlineExecutive Masters program was redesigned to accommodate the incoming classof 60 students. The class was originally designed and taught with 10 -20 studentsfor several years. The main challenges that occur in a formal large studentclassroom are managing a flood of questions from students, managing grading,presenting material effectively, keeping students engaged, holding studentsaccountable and building good team-based assignmentsiii. All these challengesoccur in an online class and tackling these becomes a little bit harder with noface-to-face contact time with the teacher.The class was redesigned to include better learning assessment methods andstudent engagement techniques. This article will talk about how the class wasredesigned to keep the students engaged but also make the class personal anduseful to each student’s expectations and career growth.i Berry, R.W., “Meeting the Challenges of Teaching Large Online Classes: Shifting to a Learner-Focus”, Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2009ii Sull, E.C., “Teaching Online with Errol: Effectively Teaching Large-Enrollment OnlineClasses”, Online Classroom, May 1, 2013iii “Strategies for Teaching Large Classes”, Published on Office of the Executive Vice Presidentand Provost of the University (

Natarajarathinam, M. (2014, June), Redesigning an Online Executive Master’s Class for a Large Number of Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22965

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