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Febiuaiy 11, 2u14

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http:www.businessweek.comaiticles2u14-u2-11beholu-a-viitual-couise-
without-online-eus-huge-uiopout-iate

Chuck Eesley
Consiuei the uilemma facing those who want to continue theii business euucation.
You can eithei uiop out of the woikfoice foi a couple of yeais anu get an NBA, oi
you can tiavel to a business school foi a week oi so at a time anu pay a piemium foi
an executive euucation piogiam. Foi companies, this saps expeitise anu skills. 0n a
peisonal level, few families can affoiu to give up the income, anu getting an NBA
may iequiie moving closei to school, leaving family behinu.
Foi some, the solution has been to go the online eu ioute. While conventional
piogiams such as 0uacity anu Couiseia have maue euucation moie accessible, theii
appioach is isolating, uevoiu of the valuable collaboiation anu netwoiking with
fellow stuuents that aie the hallmaik of the NBA expeiience. No wonuei the
uiopout iate is so high foi massive open online couises, oi N00Cs.
Theie's hope, though: I teach Technology Entiepieneuiship online fiom Stanfoiu
0niveisity (offeieu thiough NovoEu), anu 4S peicent to 6S peicent of my stuuents
finish the couise. That's a iesounuing success. compaieu to an anemic S peicent,
accoiuing to a stuuy conuucteu by NIT anu Baivaiu of theii 2u12-1S online
offeiings. In my expeiience teaching 1Su,uuu stuuents online, the subject mattei
combineu with a collaboiative expeiiencekeeps them engageu anu moie likely to
complete the piogiam.
An online business euucation shoulu not mean a vow of solituue. A new geneiation
of online piogiams such as NovoEuanu soon, BaivaiuX, that univeisity's online
leaining ventuie, set to makes its uebut on Naich S1offei an alteinative to the
monk-like expeiience of the viitual classioom. Stuuents foim teams, finu mentois
anu get feeuback on team piojects while establishing global ielationships that will
last yeais. This appioach mixes woik, life. anu euucation anu helps companies, fiom
small staitups like SPillai to such coipoiations as 0nilevei (0N), affoiuably euucate
employees aiounu the globe.
0thei euucatois often ask me how much time (ieau: woik) is iequiieu to teach
entiepieneuiship to tens of thousanus of stuuents woiluwiue. What is haiu to
explain to them until they've expeiienceu it is how the teams, mentois, anu peei
leaining make such a "massive" class feel smallei anu like a moie intimate leaining
enviionment. This iequiies ielatively little fiom the instiuctoi because the stuuents
help one anothei tackle each assignment. Now, in the fifth time the couise has iun, it
takes only a couple of houis of my weekly time to piepaie.
Let's not get hung up on completion iates oi giaues. Suie, those metiics aie
impoitant, but this appioach to viitual eu has something else going foi it: It helps
stuuents uevelop the same soft skills gaineu in a conventional classioom,
inteipeisonal anu electionic-communication tact, cioss-cultuial ielations,
leaueiship, teamwoik, anu the ability to give anu ieceive peei feeuback. You won't
finu those skills as paits of conventional online euucation piogiams.
As the contempoiaiy woikplace shifts towaiu iemote woik, uistiibuteu teams, anu
co-woikeis who aie not co-locateu, this ability to inteiact with peeis acioss
cultuies, time zones, anu geogiaphies is becoming ciucial in touay's woikfoice
aiguably moie valuable than knowing how financial maikets woik. Yet no one tiains
foi it. This a skill gaineu by uoingoften thiough leaining fiom mistakes.
Executives euucateu in this new collaboiative online enviionment will most
ceitainly have an auvantage, not only in subject mattei expeitise but also in the
team skills that aie becoming ciitically impoitant in the global business lanuscape.
The upshot: Leaining to thiive in an online eu class isn't just a way to suivive the
couise. It's a valuable business skill all its own.