U.Va. Darden Strategy MOOC Enables Students to Help Entrepreneurs and Nonprofits

Released: 5-Feb-2013 11:20 AM EST
Source Newsroom: University of Virginia Darden School Foundation
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Newswise — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – The University of Virginia Darden School of Business today announced that more than 52,000 students have registered for Professor Michael Lenox’s first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) for Coursera, “Foundations of Business Strategy.” The six-week online course, which begins 4 March 2013, will deliver lessons on the foundations of a successful business strategy. Lenox’s MOOC is also one of the first of its kind to offer real-world experience by providing students with the opportunity to analyze actual entrepreneurial and nonprofit ventures.

“Entrepreneurs, small business owners and nonprofits often don’t have the resources to hire a consulting firm. Rather than have the students all analyze the same business, why not leverage their sheer numbers to do some good for others?” said Lenox. “Businesses and social ventures can benefit from the wisdom of crowds to perhaps learn something of value for their enterprise.”

Lenox, who coordinates and teaches the Darden School’s core MBA strategy course, is also executive director of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Keenly aware of the challenges emerging ventures face, he views the MOOC as a way to provide benefits to students, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. Students will gain the tools they need to conduct a strategic analysis, and entrepreneurs and nonprofits will learn from the competitive analyses that the students will provide.

For their final project, students in Lenox’s MOOC will choose an organization for which to conduct a strategic analysis. Lenox encourages entrepreneurs and nonprofits to register for the course in order to be eligible for the final project. Students will select an organization through online forums and more than one student may analyze an organization, though an organization is not guaranteed that it will be selected.

Lenox is working with Rhodes Scholar and Oxford University graduate student, Nabeel Gillani, to analyze the effectiveness of this approach. Gillani’s master’s thesis in education explores the power of MOOCs to help solve challenges for others.

“The concept can be applied in any number of domains,” Lenox added. “Imagine a course on graphic design where students prepare solutions for real nonprofits or a computer program course where students develop code for small startups with limited budgets. The potential is enormous.”

Gillani is creating a platform to scale the idea called Coursolve.org, which matches organizations with courses to empower students to solve real-world problems.

Lenox’s “Foundations of Business Strategy” course is one of three courses offered on Coursera, by the Darden School this spring.

“We are very excited to see how the Coursera platform is allowing our faculty to experiment with new and innovative ways of creating value for participants in their courses,” said Peter Rodriguez, senior associate dean of academic programs at Darden.

Interested organizations and students can register for the course at https://www.coursera.org/#course/strategy101.

For questions or information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu or a member of the Communication team.

About the Darden School of Business
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business is one of the world's leading business schools, offering MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. The unique Darden experience combines the case study method, the highest-ranked faculty whose research advances global managerial practice and business education, and a tight-knit learning environment to develop principled and complete leaders who are ready to make an impact.

About the Batten Institute
The Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business improves the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. The Institute’s academic research center advances knowledge that addresses real-world challenges and shapes Darden’s curriculum, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership offers one of the world’s top entrepreneurship programs. The Batten Institute was established with gifts now totaling over $100 million from U.Va. alumnus Frank Batten, Sr., a media pioneer, visionary, and founder of The Weather Channel.

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