Which of the three processes in business education leads to optimum student learning: conventional learning processes, online learning processes, or joint conventional and online learning processes? This question is found to be theoretically and practically important when we view online education as a radical innovation. Taking this radical innovation view of online education, we create a theoretical framework that seeks to answer the above research question. We provide a number of propositions that compare the components of online learning systems with components of conventional learning system in terms of their ability to lead to superior student learning. The components of conventional and online learning systems in business education used for comparison are the pedagogical role of the instructor, the teaching/learning environment, the motivational level of the students, the role of action learning in business education, and the role of creativity in business education. The propositions result in the creation of a combined conventional and online learning system that we term the "integrated learning model." We propose that this model leads to optimum student learning.
This model is applicable to conventional universities going online as well as purely online universities. It advises conventional universities to create a combined learning process for their traditional offline students and at the same time advises them and purely online universities to create offline learning centers in different geographical zones when addressing students enrolled in distance learning programs. Finally, we provide support for these propositions through examples of a conventional business school and an online university that have succeeded by using the combined learning system.