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EdTech: Wharton Launches Big Data, Entrepreneurship Moocs With Silicon Valley's Coursera

Elite US b-school latest to tap into demand for online learning

Thu Jan 21 2016

Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has announced it will offer two new online programs through Silicon Valley-based online learning start-up Coursera.

The digital courses, focusing on entrepreneurship and financial modelling, are the latest in a stream of tie-ups between elite US business schools and Mooc, or massive open online course, providers.

Online learning platforms have delved deeper into entrepreneurial education in recent years, as start-up founders seek the flexibility not afforded by costly, full-time, campus programs.

Udacity for example, the edtech company valued at $1 billion last year, teamed up with Google to launch an online degree for tech entrepreneurs in October.

MIT launched a Mooc for entrepreneurs with Turkcell, the NYSE-listed telecoms group based in Turkey with edX, another leading Mooc platform.

Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, meanwhile, established the Digital Business Academy, a joint venture with TechCityUK, the agency trying to foster tech entrepreneurs in Britain.

Wharton’s new online entrepreneurship program covers key topics in the conception, design, organization, and management of new enterprises.

The four-course series is designed to take learners from opportunity identification through launch, growth, financing and profitability.

Anne Trumbore, director of Wharton Online, told BusinessBecause that there has been “tremendous demand” for entrepreneurial education.

She said it builds upon the successful Wharton entrepreneurs behind start-ups such as Shazam, the music streaming service valued at $1 billion, and Indian e-commerce leader Snapdeal, which raised $500 million last summer. “Entrepreneurship is a specialty of the Wharton School,” she said.

Wharton’s financial modelling program will help learners analyze big data to make informed business decisions.

The foundational courses will introduce learners to spreadsheets, essential modelling techniques, and common applications so that they can use their own data to describe realities, build scenarios, and predict performance.

The new offerings from Wharton and Coursera build on the launch last year of a set of online programs focused on topics including data science.  

Anne suggested that Wharton’s financial modelling course is unique because it enables learners to conduct data analysis using Excel, as opposed to more advanced programs.

Coursera is arguably the leading online learning company. The Silicon Valley start-up has amassed some 17 million users and struck partnerships with more than 120 top universities.

Business schools have publically warned of the threat posed by Mooc platforms, but they see them as a way to use their superior brands to tap into bigger global audiences. “We wanted to bring it [learning] to a global audience,” Anne added.