Harvard B-School’s New Online Initiative


Harvard Business School Launching Online Learning Initiative

Watch out, Wharton. You’re going to have some competition soon.

Last month, Wharton made a splash when it announced that it was placing its entire first year curriculum online. Now, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Harvard Business School is quietly developing online courses of its own.

Dubbed as HBX, this initiative would insert the Harvard brand into the emerging MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) market. John Fernandes, CEO of business school accreditor AACSB, refers to the move as a “watershed” for online education, stating that Harvard’s courses will get “high visibility with students all over the world.” Although Fernandes doesn’t believe HBX will “displace face-to-face education,” he predicts that it is “going to be a big piece of the pie.”

Currently, HBX is still in the development phase. This summer, Harvard appointed Jana Kierstead, Executive Director of the Harvard MBA program, to lead HBX. The Harvard Crimson also reports that the initiative is seeking a Product Manager and Director of Academic Content to handle the development of a testing model and content creation respectively.

Brian Kenny, Chief Marketing Officer for Harvard, refused to comment on whether credentialing would be included in the courses. However, Kenny believes the courses will probably be offered in 2014 via edX, an online learning platform developed by Harvard and MIT in 2012. Harvard has produced 17 courses for edX, though none include business content.

Kenny also cautioned that it was too early to share details, though he mentioned the challenge of mimicking Harvard’s case method and interactivity in an online platform. Still, Harvard has one advantage that few others possess: A “vast intellectual property, academic pedagogy and faculty talent.” 2014 is shaping up to being a fascinating year in education, no doubt.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, The Harvard Crimson

Young man have job interview.

Selling Yourself To MBA Admissions

“Customers lie.”

Every salesperson learns that axiom…and usually the hard way. You believe that you’re talking to the right people, asking the right questions, and hitting the right points. Despite that, something unexpected always pops up. Suddenly, the budget tightens or a bureaucrat howls. Then, they dodge your calls and push back the project. They were so hot-and-heavy before. And the solution was a perfect fit. What happened?

If you’ve ever been rejected (or placed on the waiting list) by a business school, you’ve probably gone through the same process. And the only thing you can do is ask, “What happened?”

You can’t read minds. What admissions people say isn’t always what they value in practice. With so many people involved in the selection process, a ‘fit’ to one person may not seem like a ‘fit’ to someone else. That’s one reason why Stacy Blackman, a long-time admissions consultant and author, encourages applicants to look at the entire admissions process. In fact, Blackman notes that the admissions process is very similar to how prospects evaluate a potential solution. And she identifies four “buyers” you’ll need to sell to get into your school:

1) Admissions Fellow: Acting as the gatekeeper, the fellow is the first person who reviews your application. Generally a second year MBA student, the fellow determines if your application is escalated to admissions.

2) Admissions Officer: This person examines your credentials and weighs whether you merit an interview.

3) Interviewer: Interviewers may include admissions, faculty, alumni, or students. They will probe your work history, academic background, and career goals to measure your fit with the institution.

4) Director of Admissions: The final decision-maker, the director will place you into one of three buckets: Recommended, Rejected, or Waiting List.

Bottom line: You need to appeal to each of these individuals – and they may hold diametrically different expectations for the institution. Blackman encourages candidates to start by speaking to the admissions director, as her philosophy will likely trickle down to the other committee members. She also recommends that candidates research the backgrounds of search committee members, paying close attention to writings and video messages for clues to their mindsets. By doing this, you can tailor your essays and interview to the school’s vision. What’s more, you can better answer the real question each of these ‘buyers’ want answered: “Why do you want to go to school here?”

Source: US News and World Report

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