MS in Learning and Organizational Change Becomes International Program

MS in Learning and Organizational Change Becomes International Program

By Marilyn Sherman

SESP’s Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program opens the school year with new status as an international program, a new full-time faculty member and new recognition for its innovative use of technology. 

With its alternative schedule option, which combines distance learning and on-campus course work, MSLOC is now drawing a growing number of part-time students from across the nation and overseas. Nearly half of the new MSLOC students are pursuing their degrees from locations outside the Chicago area through the option, which began in 2009.

“A strength of the MSLOC program is its professional diversity, with students coming from different industries, backgrounds and now even more geographic areas,” says Jeff Merrell, MSLOC associate director. MSLOC has always had strong national and international representation among its full-time students. But the alternative schedule option adds to the mix by allowing working professionals — whether they live in the Chicago area or not  — to pursue a degree or graduate certificate part-time. Drawing more people from a greater variety of locales is adding to the program’s richness, he notes, pointing to students who work for Silicon Valley start-ups, media organizations, and pharmaceutical and consulting companies.

Adding to the academic leadership capacity of the program is new faculty member Ryan Smerek, who earned his doctorate in organizational behavior/management from the University of Michigan, his master’s from Harvard University and his bachelor’s from Dartmouth College. An interdisciplinary scholar who studies organizations and leadership, Smerek has published papers on job satisfaction, the cultural complexity of universities, open book finance, and the link between culture and financial performance, and his dissertation, Sensemaking and Sensegiving: Leadership Processes of New College Presidents, won two major awards.

Like all of the MSLOC faculty members, he joins the program with experience as a practitioner, having worked as a consultant. A full-time lecturer for the MSLOC program, Smerek will teach Accelerating Learning and Performance, the Capstone course and the practicum course, among others. He also will be involved in student advising and program administration.

Another major new accomplishment for MSLOC is the recognition the program is receiving for its use of technology in building a learning community. Examples include a presentation at the Chicago E-Learning and Technology Showcase and a meeting with Google about how the program uses Google applications.

MSLOC is getting attention for its innovative use of tools including Google applications, web conferencing, desktop video conferencing, blogs, wikis and social media. “We’re using those tools as a way for students and faculty to collaborate and explore ideas in more interesting ways,” Merrell says.

As MSLOC approaches its 10-year anniversary, the program is building on its strengths and attaining new successes. “Technology is a piece or our success, but the real win is consistently creating a learning community where students learn from each other,” says Merrell.

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Master's in Learning & Organizational Change

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