Though HBS won’t disclose the actual cost of the classroom, Anand says that it is slightly more than a typical tiered classroom in a campus building. “We are probably in the $300 to $500 range per student per session and that includes all fixed costs and variable costs,” says Anand. While only 60 students can actively participate in a class, up to 1,000 others can observe with a 15-second delay which would significantly drive down costs, he adds. Ultimately, he says, the school could have two or three of these virtual classrooms.
HOW DISRUPTIVE WILL THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM BECOME? THAT’S REALLY UP TO HBS
During the mock class, Anand asks a question that surprisingly draws little response. “What is your favorite example of disrupting from the high end?,” he asks. “I’ll give you a big hint. It’s like close to home. It’s HBX.”
The students laugh and so does Anand. But the point is well taken.
Just how disruptive Harvard’s classroom of the future will largely depend on the school itself. I So far, HBS has put six cohorts through its CORe online program that launched in June of 2014. All told, the school is just shy of 4,500 registrants in the program from more than 70 countries, with another cohort starting Sept. 9 that is expected to have more than 900 students.
With its new virtual classroom, Harvard could easily do a global Executive MBA program from the classroom, an entire portfolio of executive education offerings, or even an accelerated online MBA that would not compete with its more expansive, two-year, full-time residential program. But it’s all up to Harvard Business School to decide what and when to really disrupt the high-end market for business education.