The Biggest Business MOOC Ever?

Robert Shiller in the classroom

Robert Shiller in the classroom

THE LARGEST MOOC TOPPED OUT AT ABOUT 230,000 PEOPLE

Sign up is of course no guarantee people will either start or complete any MOOC. (While the largest MOOC has topped out at about 230,000 people, classes more typically draw about 20,000 students, according to Katy Jordan, who studied completion data for 221 MOOCs.

While the Coursera format will be new, Shiller’s 2011 Financial Markets class received mixed reviews of the same course delivered on-campus from students, some who found his class dry. “Be prepared for underwhelming lectures, and every nit-picking detail of the huge amount of reading involved,” one reviewer wrote, while another says “the course material itself is fascinating, and every Yale student should really understand these financial basics before going out into the “real world.” Unfortunately, Professor Shiller, though I think he does really care about his students and does try to teach, is not very good at lecturing.”

Shiller was not available for comment. Asked about the reviews, Swineford said he hadn’t seen the data. “We think having a Nobel prize winner delivering a course is pretty exciting,” he said. In other words, a Nobel Laureate is teaching this course for free. Enough said. Shiller will also have at least three guest speakers in his online class: David Swensen, the chief investment officer of Yale; Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the controversial former CEO of AIG (American International Group), and Laura Cha, a Hong Kong businesswoman.

YALE GOT INTO THE MOOC GAME IN 2007

Yale University first launched free Open Yale Courses in December 2007, reaching people from 228 countries on iTunes U and YouTube. An announcement of four Coursera courses followed in Nov. 2013; the university opened the courses for public sign up this past January.

The MOOCs differ from the open courses because of their format. Each faculty member is experimenting with different techniques; all are using short videos punctuated with questions and assessments or longer assessments at the end of each section.

According to Yale’s website, Amar’s Constitutional Law course “will recreate the Socratic method by having some teaching sessions where he is in deep dialogue with one or two students.” Kleiner is recruiting six community moderators from around the globe to serve as assistants in online discussion forums. Bloom intends to conduct some live conversations with Coursera students. Shiller’s newly filmed ntroductions will provide a slightly different perspective to his classroom lectures.

Yale joins Princeton, Columbia, Penn, and Stanford, in posting courses with Coursera. Meantime, a Harvard Business School professor is offering the first free MOOC at Harvard, Innovating In Health Care. HBS Professor Regina E. Herzlinger will begin teaching the course on March 31. HBS is expected to launch a portfolio of online courses this spring and could charge for them – as the school does with executive education seminars. Harvard’s online initiative, dubbed HBX, involves substantial investments in technology platform development as well as the construction of the school’s first fully interactive virtual classroom called Studio X in the WGBH building in Brighton.

Students who complete Financial Markets receive a statement of accomplishment, signed by Shiller.

In his class intro, Shiller says he wants the class to cover what goes on in “the real world” of finance, with a forward-looking spin.

“We can’t really predict the future although I’ll try,” he says.

DON’T MISS: THE MOOC REVOLUTION: HOW TO EARN AN ELITE MBA FOR FREE or AN MBA FOR UNDER $1,000? SERIOUSLY!