Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are becoming a mainstay of modern higher education. In recent years, business schools around the world have harnessed platforms like Coursera and edX to offer MOOCs of their own – and they’re gaining in popularity.
Taken together, Harvard and MIT MOOCs have served nearly 4.5 million students since 2012, according to a recent study. Over 245,000 students have earned certifications.
MOOCS have not come without controversy. In 2013, faculty at San Jose State University in California criticized a heavily-advertised MOOC program from the school, saying that online courses could not substitute for interpersonal classroom work. Many online students of that program did not perform as well as their in-class counterparts.
Still, business schools continue to launch their own MOOCs – many see the MOOCs as a way to reach out to new markets and build their brands internationally. Corporate giants like Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have also begun offering similar online courses.
For the MBA applicant, MOOCs can be a way to sample and prepare for a full-time course. MBA students can combine their studies with extra online courses separate to the core curriculum. Even for MBA alumni, MOOCs are a way to stay in touch with new research put out by leading business school professors.
Here are five business school-sponsored MOOCs that MBAs need to know about:
1. Leadership in 21st Century Organizations (Coursera), Copenhagen Business School
This innovative MOOC from Copenhagen Business School promises lessons on helming the “stormy” atmosphere of the modern company.
Students follow the journey of Jim Barton, the fictional CEO at an aerospace firm, to learn how to solve practical problems facing twenty-first century managers. After taking the course, the program says pupils will be able to handle unique challenges “such as greater reliance on specialized workers or the need to respond to scrutiny in an increasingly transparent world.”
The course is based on the book Harder Than I Thought: Adventures of a 21st Century Leader by Copenhagen Business School professor Robert D. Austin.
Austin teaches the online course along with assistant professor Shannon Hessel.
2. Positioning: What you need for a Successful Market Strategy (Coursera), IE Business School
Madrid’s IE Business School offers this MOOC for the “ambitious, business-minded individual” looking to start their own business or launch a career in marketing.
Students will have a better grasp of positioning a product for marketing after completing this course.
Taught by IE’s Ignacio Gafo, the course teaches students how to pinpoint the correct market segments to get the most out of a business plan. Interviews with industry leaders add color to the course; the second of a five-part series of modules on marketing from IE. On-location quizzes with members of the public also enliven proceedings.
3. Globalization of Business Enterprise (Coursera), IESE Business School
With controversy brewing around the role of globalization in political life, this MOOC from IESE in Spain lets students view the trend through a business perspective.
This course is taught by Pankaj Ghemawat from IESE’s Department of Strategic Management.
4. Customer Relationship Management (edX), Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
This MOOC focuses on customer retention as a key dynamic in the competition between firms, teaching students the best ways to maintain fruitful relationships with clients.
Also known as CRM, Customer Relationship Management from IIMB in Bangalore, India highlights strategies that transform short-term transaction-based business into more profitable long-term professional relationships.
5. Managing the Company of the Future (Coursera), London Business School
London Business School’s Julian Birkinshaw leads a MOOC focused on the evolution of management tactics.
Much of this five-week course centers around the divide between traditional and modern styles of workplace leadership, giving students the tools to not only face day-to-day challenges, but also develop their own leadership style. The course outlines objective-setting strategies designed to make students better bosses.