Harvard Business School announces online learning initiative

Harvard University is no stranger to online education. After all, the school is currently offering a variety of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, through nonprofit online education platform, edX. But, according to Gigaom, MOOCs offered up until this point have focused solely on topics in the liberal arts, sciences, and history . However, all of that is about to change. Harvard Business School recently announced that they’re throwing their hat in the ring with their own online learning initiative, HBX.

“This is a lot bigger than meets the eye,” said John Fernandes, chief executive of the business school accreditation group Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, to Bloomberg Businessweek. “They’re going to get high visibility with students all over the world. I don’t want to say it’s going to displace face-to-face education, but it’s going to be a big piece of the pie.”

At this point, few details are available aside from the fact that the HBX courses will likely be offered through the school’s already-formed platform, HarvardX. And although there has already been quite a bit of speculation, it is also unknown whether the courses will offer some sort of credential upon completion. The new MOOCs are currently scheduled to open their virtual doors in spring or summer of 2014.

As the Harvard School of Business moves forward with its new online initiative, they’re likely to face the same growing pains that other schools have encountered. However, many both inside and outside of the project believe that online education is an inevitable part of the future of higher education as a whole. And, according to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard Business School plans on using all of the resources at its disposal to become “the top provider of business education online” across the globe.

Although the project is still in its infancy, many HBX insiders believe that the online learning initiative has the potential to really shake things up. Prominent Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen recently coined the term “disruptive innovation” in order to describe how HBX could, in fact, completely displace other competitors in the online business education market.

“An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill,” he writes on his website. “It truly isn’t as good, but does this technology, over time, get good enough to meet the needs of our customers? The answer is yes.”

“Disruptive Innovation,” Clayton Christensen, http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/
“Harvard Business School Launching Online Learning Initiative,” Bloomberg Businessweek, October 9, 2013, Louis Lavelle, and Erin Zlomek, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-09/harvard-business-school-launching-online-learning-initiative
“HBS Develops Online Learning Platform,” The Harvard Crimson, October 11, 2013, Indrani G. Das, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/10/11/hbs-online-learning-platform/#
“Want a Harvard B-School education? You’ll soon be able to get one online with HBX,” Gigaom, October 11, 2013, Ki Mae Huessner, http://gigaom.com/2013/10/11/want-a-harvard-b-school-education-youll-soon-be-able-to-get-one-online-with-hbx/

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