MIT recently announced that they will offer online teaching of MIT courses free of charge to anyone in the world. Yes, that is right FREE OF CHARGE at MIT. This will be through an online learning initiative called MITx. This will build on their already successful, free online learning platform, OpenCourseWare which so far has been used by over a 100 million students and contains course materials for roughly 2,100 classes – according to an article published by Forbes in Dec 2011.
Students who exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion from MIT. Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or brainstorm with others. They can also access online labs and self assessments.
This move is the next logical step for MIT and I fully expect other Ivy League universities to follow suit. Most of them already offer some form of free online access to their courses. MITx is expected to be a super hit among individual users as well as other education providers. The University foresees this open infrastructure for learning will encourage others to contribute and make it self-sustaining.
If you feel that this type of free Ivy League access will threaten your own teaching and courses, you are not alone. Several for profit education providers like DeVry, University of Phonix are taking stock of this along with reputed online education sites like Codecademy, Udemy, Academic Earth who provide degree level education for free or at a competitive price.
You may be reading some of these names for the first time but your students are not. Their awareness is something you need to take into account for your business classes. Currently, these online courses are in STEM areas (Science,Technology, Engineering and Math). It will not be long before business classes are offered in this format; and Yellow Sequoia is certainly working towards this goal for 2012. However the point of this post is to underline the importance of incorporating an interactive element in your teaching.
Here is one option that is predicted to be a major trend in teaching – Outdoor exercises
This might sound counter-intuitive, but using today’s technology to run an outdoor business class is perfect. Organize your class into groups of 3 to 4 students, ensuring that there is at least one data-enabled smartphone in the group. Now send them on a retail treasure hunt in your local area. The smartphones are supposed to help them identify the products and their purchasing trends. You can take this one step further and ask them to purchase at the cheapest price and resell at a profit.
Relying on the basic tenets of running a business, this outdoor games gives them some much needed exercise, sun (if available), stimulation, negotiation skills, leadership and team building and finally risk taking.