Online Learning Update

July 11, 2013

A New Use for MOOCs: Real-World Problem Solving

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:11 am

by Zafrin Nurmohamed, Nabeel Gillani, and Michael Lenox, Harvard Business Review Blog

We can use MOOCs as platforms for real-world problem solving. This March, over 90,000 life-long learners from 143 countries enrolled in Foundations of Business Strategy, a MOOC offered through Coursera by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. These learners enrolled to explore the frameworks and theories underlying successful business strategies. Some came from leading international organizations such as General Electric, Grameenphone, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, and Walmart. Many others were intrepid entrepreneurs, small business operators, and social venture founders. With their unique backgrounds, the students wove a rich tapestry of ideas and creative insights. To harness these students’ talents, the course’s final project invited them to help real organizations by performing a strategic analysis of an existing firm’s business operations. In partnership with Coursolve, an initiative founded by two of us that connects organizations with courses to empower students to solve real-world problems, the course enabled a wide range of businesses to take advantage of the global student body’s insights and creativity. One hundred organizations joined the course and actively connected with learners. Organizations of all types participated, from resource-strapped small enterprises to established brick-and-mortar organizations, including one with close to 280,000 employees operating in over 30 countries.

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