MOOCs Push The Efficiency Frontier

In the FAQ for Professor Terwiesch’s Operations Management class he says, “You will look at the world with different eyes,” and he wasn’t kidding.

While watching his Conclusion video for the class, I recalled considering how these online courses are pushing the efficiency frontier of education. However, I am clearly still not as capable at creating graphical representations of my thoughts as the prof himself:

Coursera's Efficiency Frontier

But I do contemplate how MOOCs in general will affect this curve. Even now, I’m not completely sure I agree with graphing Coursera as a whole so high on the curve. I hope it is, but I honestly believe it may have just been Christian Terwiesch‘s Operations course, as it truly was exceptional.

Regardless, I think MOOC courses are extremely beneficial to the knowledge hungry (like myself), but should not be accepted as an equivalent to an academic credit (although it is being considered). The courses do, however, open an infinite number of possibilities for “live” classes to be even more effective.

Ideas that immediately spring to mind — using the courses as:

  • a prerequisite;
  • supplemental material; or
  • a basis for creating the “flipped classroom” environment.


January-Loaded Spring Classes

So, after many attempts to slim down my January course load, I’ve finally narrowed myself down to 5 classes. And, hopefully I won’t add too many more as the season goes on.

Even now, I’m still trying to settle on one economics class.  I just can’t tell which one will spur my interests more.  The Economics for Scientists appears to offer much greater depth into the topic; however, the Microeconomics class was designed specifically for business students, so it might align more closely to my actual needs.

Coming up later in the year, I also have the following classes on the docket.  But who knows if my online Spring semester will include additional classes.

Unfortunately though, I do not expect to receive any kind of certificate or statement for the Business Strategy or Business Ethics classes.  Also, I need to assemble an entourage to take on the Strategic Innovation class with me, otherwise I will be ostracized and unable to join in the group activities.

Data Analysis and Financial Engineering will be good opportunities for me to really put my R skills to the test.  I also expect Economics for Scientists and Financial Engineering to be fairly challenging classes, so they might really change the rest of the semester’s lineup.  But I am also feeling somewhat compelled to take some classes that aren’t either quantitative or business-related.  I love a good challenge though, so we’ll see if the harder classes will slow me down.
2013 spring

Top Ten Business Schools?

So… friends, peers, advisers, and all manner of people in my life have told me that I should only consider an MBA if it’s from a “Top Ten” school. I’ve been told that it’s all about “the brand” and “the network” and anything less than the best isn’t worth the investment. Unfortunately, there are so many different rankings, and each one is somewhat different, so it’s been hard to narrow down the top ten. Some of these rankings are based on salaries while others are based on some collection of surveys.

The most popular ones are:

Thankfully, has conveniently aggregated the most popular lists for us into a single ranking. I’ve clipped the top 10 since apparently that’s all that matters.
Top 10 MBA

Another interesting new survey-based ranking also yields similar results: Business Insider’s The World’s Best Business Schools.

While all these rankings are all good, it is still a lot of investment. And, in an age of free and open everything on the internet, I’m considering whether I’d be just as well off doing my own DIY MBA since I’m not sure if I’m more intrigued by the knowledge or “the brand” and “the network”.


Rate Your Online Course Experience

Remember in the old days when we would use sites like Rate My Professors to assess whether we should take a class? Well now MOOCs have become so popular that a similar site called CourseTalk has been launched.

Now you can narrow down exactly which courses are the crème de la crème of the online world. Most of the courses, thusfar, could still use more a lot opinions, but seeing some reviews has already begun to affect my planning for future enrollments.

More opinions will also help to give the star ratings some statistical significance. Statistics One can help you out if you don’t quite understand statistical significance, although it received good but mixed reviews.

I need to contribute my own reviews, so I’m not just leech of MOOC society. Below is a screenshot of my first one for Operations Management.

Fall 2012 Semester Completed!

So I’ve finally finished my first “semester” trying to go to online class in a more formal manner. Before this Fall, I watched videos on my own, often through iTunes U, and doing homework assignments on my own where applicable, such as with the MIT OCW Scholar courses.

This Fall, I enrolled in the following classes on Coursera:

And unfortunately, I had to defer and drop out of the following edX class since I just didn’t have the time, but the 2 weeks I spent there was great, and I hope to try out their classes again in the future:

I must say I had a great experience with using Coursera.  For me, I am self-motivated and able to follow their weekly schedule of work, but I can see how it is hard for some.  It is just the right amount of structure for me to keep progressing, particularly via the weekly homework assignments and/or quizzes.  Some may argue that it is difficult to learn with such “disengaged” professors, but in these courses, I found the people on the forums to be more than helpful enough in answering questions.    Anyone who was enrolled in Operations could probably tell you that Collin somehow was able to help everyone despite being a student as well.

Computing for Data Analysis

There will always be an “honesty” issue as to whether or not a student actually did the work, so I’m still not totally convinced that these courses should ever qualify as legitimate college credit.  However, I think they are ideal for fulfilling pre-requisite type requirements. And, if you’re like me and are in it for the knowledge, then there’s no point in cheating because you’re actually enrolled to learn.  And in that case, it will change your world. No more tuition, no more late-night classes, no more summer school, and no more community college.