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What’s Behind Wharton’s Massive Bet on Online Learning

22 Dec

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by John A. Byrne

An early move into MOOCs made Wharton an international giant in online education.

When marketing professor Peter Fader was asked to be one of three professors to build one of the first online classes at Wharton in 2012, he was marched to the corner of Second and South Streets in Philadelphia and told to face the lens of a video camera instead of students for the first time in his life.

“They turned the camera on and said ‘Let’s do a MOOC,” he laughs. “I had no idea what I was doing. There were no precedents. No one else was doing this.”

Looking to avoid a dull class filled with 101 marketing concepts, he cherry picked material from Wharton’s elective courses in marketing. At the time, Fader could not even imagine who would want to take the online course, an Introduction to Marketing, one of the first MOOCs Wharton would offer.

“My first impression was that the only people who would want this were senior citizens, housewives, or somebody in prison,” he quips.

Contrary to Faber’s initial expectations, MOOC learners turned out to be an impressive bunch. More than 90% have some college and most have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The age of learners tends to range from 25 to 44, and the vast majority are employed full time.

When Fader’s first course went live in 2013, he was amazed to get emails from engineers and managers all over the world. “These people are every bit the caliber of our MBA students,” he says. “I’d get an email from an engineer in Pakistan and lots of other people who would never have had the chance to come to Wharton.”

[ Full article available at Fortune: http://fortune.com/2015/12/22/wharton-online-learning/ ]

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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News

 

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