Massive open online courses: the latest venue for crowdsourcing

How one MOOC became a wellspring of innovation for 100 participating organizations, and how this changes online courses into two-way engagements.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are not only disrupting higher education, but also starting to reach into the corporate world as well. Some observers are suggesting that MOOCs are the next wellspring for innovation in the marketplace.

Collage by Joe McKendrick

In a new post at the Harvard Business Review's blogsite, Zafrin Nurmohamed, Nabeel Gillani and Michael Lenox suggest that MOOCs -- with their enormous high levels of participation by college-educated, working professionals -- can be put to practical use solving real-world problems for the business community. Nurmohamed and Gillani, co-founders of Coursolve, a MOOC provider, recently teamed up with Lenox, a University of Virginia professor, to do just that.

Lenox's six-week online course, Foundations of Business Strategy, had 90,000 students, of which a number were part of large organizations as well as entrepreneurs. The course's final project involved engaging with a real-world business to perform a strategic analysis of its business operations, and about 100 organizations participated.

As a post-course survey revealed, six out of ten of the participating organizations say they would do it again, and they would welcome online student collaboration on very high-level problems. Engagements such as this is changing the dynamics of both education and corporate learning, the authors state:

"We need to rethink what constitutes 'a student.' Today’s students are astute, have work experiences, and in many cases, have already developed a set of core competencies. Moreover, students in MOOCs offer unique international perspectives that would be the envy of any business school classroom."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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