REINFORCING THE NOTION THAT WHARTON IS MORE THAN A SCHOOL OF FINANCE
Garrett also believes that Wharton’s MOOC strategy can be used to smartly reinforce the notion that Wharton is more than a school of finance. It’s not an accident that Wharton’s first two specializations in business fundamentals and business analytics were not pure finance offerings. Wharton’s new two specializations on Coursera–to be launched next month–are an Introduction to Business & Financial Modeling and Entrepreneurship.
In an attempt to offer learning opportunities between MOOCs and on-campus programs, Wharton will soon debut small private online classes. “The next iteration is a SPOC for a smaller group of people at a company or university,” says Garrett. “You can create a private community of learners and that would be higher value proposition. We would charge a higher price for that.” SPOCs, adds Garrett, would likely feature greater facilitation and more interactive learning among students, just like Fader’s initial foray into the field with his customer relationships course.
This year Wharton also began using its suite of MOOC courses in business fundamentals as a recruiting tool for MBA applicants. The school will soon begin offering the top 25 learners in its specialization a waiver on the MBA application fee. The waivers will be honored through round one in September of 2016. The school had earlier announced it will offer up to five $20,000 scholarships to students admitted to the MBA program who have received the best grades in the specialization during the previous 12 months.
THE ULTIMATE BENEFIT: CHANGING THE WAY CLASSES WORK ON CAMPUS
Ironically, perhaps, the greatest yet unrealized benefit of Wharton’s MOOC strategy may well be seen in the old bricks-and-mortar classrooms. “What we’re doing is using technology to get the low value, one way transmission of knowledge outside of the classroom,” says Huesman. “It is dumb to have a faculty member stand up in front of a class and deliver a lecture today. If we get that out of the classroom, all kinds of interesting things can happen in class.”
The less time devoted to that kind of rote teaching, adds Huesman, would free up faculty to spend more time leading dynamic discussions at Wharton’s San Francisco campus or leading teams of students on experiential learning opportunities far afield from its Philadelphia campus. “It can free up faulty time so they can craft learning experiences with students that are truly life changing,” says Huesman. “MOOCs are raising the bar for face-to-face education.”
Garrett agrees. “Ultimately, we want to use online content to provide a better experience for our students in the classroom,” he says. “We want class to be more interactive, team oriented and focused on problem solving. We tend to be in the learning by studying moment, but I think we are going to have to balance that with learning by doing.”