While Everyone Waits For The Big Announcement,
A MOOC Emerges From HBS
While many business school observers are anxiously waiting to see what Harvard Business School will do with MOOCs, the school’s first female tenured professor is offering what will be the first MOOC by an HBS prof: Innovating In Health Care.
Regina E. Herzlinger’s 11-week course is expected to launch on March 31st under Harvard University’s MOOC initiative, HarvardX. The course is being billed as “an introduction to innovation in health care ventures for those interested in entrepreneurial opportunities in health care technology, management, consulting, or investing.”
But it is not part of the long-awaited initiative by HBS which has been quietly studying the MOOC market and putting together a go-to-market approach that will be among the most watched events in the business school world this year. HBS is expected to launch a portfolio of MOOC courses this spring and could very well charge for them like executive education seminars.
Recently asked about the forthcoming announcement, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria told Poets&Quants it’s still a little too early to let the cat out of the bag. But he said so with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, leading us to believe that the school is coming up with something that will most likely shake things up.
Though there are enough free courses available from top business schools to assemble a full MBA curriculum, the schools that offer the courses are losing money and talent over them. MOOCs are generally free, though some users pay small fees for a completion certificate. Yet they are often taught by a school’s best professors who are therefore taken out of the on-campus classroom and away from paying MBA students. The schools generally justify their investments by such less tangible benefits as extending their brands or learning more about the online education market given its disruptive influence. It seems highly unlikely that HBS will want to take that route.
It has now been eight months since HBS put Jana Kierstead in charge of an online learning initiative. The former executive director of HBS’ MBA program and former director of MBA career services, Kierstead has been assembling, in her words on her LinkedIn profile, “a new team dedicated to delivering high quality business education through innovative online products.” And she has been figuring out the strategy and the first set of courses that HBS would offer online.
Herzlinger’s health care class is not part of that initiative, but rather one of eight new MOOCs being offered by the university, along with such other courses ‘Introduction to Computer Scienc”e and “Data Analysis for Genomics.” She plans to teach the course with two other instructors, Margo Seltzer, a professor in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Kevin Schulman, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Students who sign up for the course are expected to devote six to 12 hours a week to study.
There’s a new twist to this MOOC, however, which is actually being offered in two formats: an open, online experience and a more limited, team-based deep dive experience, where teams (self-assembled or newly created online) can produce actual business plans evaluated by peer teams and the Innovating in Health Care course instructors. In order to apply for the small private course (100 teams will be admitted), participants must form teams of 4-6 people around a health care business idea. Teams can be composed of people you already know or people you meet within our networking group.
The course will be delivered through lectures about assessing and creating a business plan and with case studies that describe decisions facing real entrepreneurial health firms and requires you to analyze these potential decisions through the IHC framework. Participants are taught how to use the case method and how to evaluate business plans. In addition, these lessons are highlighted by insights from the top global health care innovators.