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Mooc Makers Increase Competition With B-Schools With Executive Courses

Mooc provider edX is edging into business schools' territory with executive courses – pitching it against MBA providers' executive education programs.

Mon Oct 13 2014

Learning technology company edX is launching a series of short executive courses which participants will have to pay for, in a further sign that Moocs – massive open online courses – are evolving into the fee-paying market, and are threatening to steal business schools’ revenue.

Executive education courses are most schools’ main sources of income. They are often customized and sold to private corporations, covering business trends such as big data and leadership.

Moocs are seen by many in the education sector as a direct threat to MBA and master’s programs, offering similar content developed by tenure or tenure-track professors, but free of charge.

EdX’s new range of courses will require participants to pay upfront to enrol. As well as charging upfront fees, edX licences courses to institutions, and sells qualifications to students, who after completing edX’s Moocs are given the option to purchase a verified certificate which they can present to potential employers.

The new courses are a shift away from the free programs traditional associated with edX. The organization is an initiative of leading US universities MIT and Harvard, with most of its Moocs targeted at university students.

One of its new executive courses is business-related. Engaging with Innovation Ecosystems: The Corporate Perspective, was developed by MIT Sloan, the business school, and will cost students $1,249.

While edX has largely focused on developing free content, this shift into paid-for programs is likely to pitch it directly against business schools.

Inge Kerkloh-Devif, executive director of global business development at HEC Executive Education, said that the industry is in a “disruptive innovation situation”: “We see new players coming in,” she said, adding that Moocs are competition.

While technology has enabled Moocs to gain massive audiences, it has also allowed schools to develop more executive education programs that can be taught through distance learning. New technology is energizing a revival which has seen demand for courses become insatiable in emerging market regions including Asia and Africa.

The Middle East has proved a particularly lucrative area for European business schools. London Business School won a $38 million contract to train top managers in Kuwait last November, while Andrew White, associate dean for executive education at Oxford Saïd, said revenues from custom business have risen from $9 million to $15 million in a year.

For emerging market business schools, there is a similar boom. Ten of the top Latin American schools had increase in revenues of more than 17% last year, on top of growth of more than 13% in 2012.

HEC, the French business school, has launched open-enrolment programs in Qatar and China, and Inge sees increasing demand in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mooc developers believe that more people now prefer the flexibility that online programs deliver. Business schools have adapted and executive education is experiencing a revival, but competition remains fierce.

Coursera, the for-profit educational technology giant that develops Moocs, has created more than 600 online courses. In July, it had at least $65 million in investment capital, and had grown to have approximately seven million users.

Coursera recently announced a deal with NetEase, a Chinese Internet company, to build a Chinese-language portal for its courses, and it has been working with local universities and organizations in several countries to expand into non-English-speaking markets.

Student Reviews

HEC Paris




On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.




On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.




On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.





Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.




On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.




On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.




On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.





A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!




On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.