Harvard Business School Helps Students from Any Discipline Develop Business Skills

Posted By Terri Williams on August 5, 2016 at 8:51 am
Harvard Business School Helps Students from Any Discipline Develop Business Skills

Regardless of their majors, college students can benefit from obtaining business skills. Liberal arts students, as well as those in nursing, IT, human resources, or other fields of study, can gain a competitive advantage if they also possess business credentials.

But who has the time, desire, or funds, to juggle two majors? Thanks to a new Harvard Business School initiative, you won’t have to.

Harvard Business School recently launched HBX CORe, a unique, digital learning program designed to help students gain business fundamentals. GoodCall spoke with Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBX, to find out more about this innovative program.

Business skills program launch

Harvard Business School launched the HBX online learning platform for our Credential of Readiness (CORe) program and Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen in June 2014,” Mullane says. “Within the next year, we launched the HBX Live platform.”

Harvard Business School’s mission is “to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” and HBX sought to use technology to accomplish this mission. However, Mullane says the school did not want to create another massive open online course platform. “Rather, we wanted HBX to serve as an extension of Harvard Business School’s on-campus offerings—high-quality business education re-imagined for the digital age.”

As a result, HBX is unlike other online programs. “The HBX online platform was built from the ground up and effectively marries Harvard Business School’s renowned case study method approach to teaching with an interactive, online, community-based curriculum,” Mullane says.

Business skills program goals

Mullane says HBX was developed with three goals in mind. “First, we wanted an engaging online experience for learners by emphasizing the case method – a pedagogy that helps students learn by having them put themselves in the position of a leader in a real-world situation and interact with each other to determine a path forward.”

The second goal was to guarantee that students are engaged during the learning process and actually finish the courses. “This is accomplished through the use of very interactive learning elements, deadlines for quizzes, and other assignments to keep cohorts moving through the material together, and by charging for the course to motivate students to make the most of the program,” he says.

The third goal was to create a business model that would be sustainable while maintaining the highest quality of business courses. HBX uses the same coursework as Harvard Business School, and the faculty were involved in the platform’s design and the content development.

How students apply for the program

Students applying to HBX CORe need to complete a free 20-minute application. “We screen for committed learners who have the motivation and aptitude to complete the program and make positive contributions to the HBX community,” Mullane explains.

Participants in HBX CORe also need an Internet-connected desktop or notebook computer with either a Chrome or Firefox browser. In addition, they need a broadband Internet connection to access the media in the program.

Program methodology and classes

According to Mullane, the case study method takes participants through a deliberate discovery process. “In each course, students are introduced to material via a case protagonist – a real manager grappling with an issue – and learn the concepts and skills necessary in the context of that situation, so they not only master the concepts, but understand their relevance and applicability.” Class participants have small group discussions, share ideas, provide feedback and receive help from their peers.

HBX CORe is the flagship of the HBX offerings and teaches business fundamentals. “The CORe curriculum consists of three courses meant to teach learners the language of business through the study of Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting,” Mullane says.

Business skills program reception

HBX CORe has been received very well, Mullane says. “Our research shows that students find the program to be highly engaging, which has helped drive our completion rates in the mid-80% range.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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