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Even though MOOCs don’t run on a semester schedule, I still like to think of my business education in those terms. As I near the end of the fall semester of my second year of self-made B-school, I’d like to reflect on some of the highlights of the past four months.

I talked to some very interesting people

I shared my thoughts on MOOC education with a grad student in Switzerland, answered some thought provoking questions from a startup in Bulgaria, and met a dynamic CEO who shared his insights on how employers see MOOC education.

I valued my coursework at over $50,000

I was recently asked how much my MBA coursework to date would have cost at a traditional university. Here’s my back of the napkin calculation: assuming $1000 per credit hour and 3 credit hours per course, I have racked up over $50,000 worth of free courses!

I facilitated a MOOC

Last year the State Department teamed up with Coursera to provide facilitated MOOC courses at embassies around the world as part of the MOOC Camp Initiative.  In October and November of this year, I served as facilitator of one of these camps a the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. The course was “Beyond Silicon Valley: Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies” - perfect for the Rwandan context. I worked with an inspiring group of young Rwandan entrepreneurs, and even managed to arrange a Skype session with Professor Michael Goldberg.

A professor asked me to take his MOOC

One of the most exciting things that happened this semester was that a professor reached out to me and asked me to take his MOOC. And I’m glad he did! Professor George Siedel teaches an excellent course titled Successful Negotiation. Which brings me to my next highlight…

My best course assignment so far

The final assignment in Successful Negotiation is a negotiation exercise. The whole course builds up to this negotiation. Students in the course choose a negotiation partner, and each student is assigned one of two roles. The scenario was detailed enough that there was a lot to work with and plenty of opportunity to put the concepts in the course into practice. In addition to being a great practical assignment, it was a perfect solution to the problem of lack of student interaction in a MOOC. My only complaint about this course was that there was only one such negotiation. If more are included in a subsequent offering, I may end up taking this course again.

My most difficult course so far

Perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon since I haven’t finished this course yet, but I am six weeks into Supply Chain and Logistics Management from MITx, and I am on track to pass. MIT courses are HARD. In many courses, a straight A is no big achievement, but in an MIT course, a 60% is a passing grade, and it’s difficult to get. This course has required me to reach back into the recesses of my memory to high school algebra and calculus, to dust off my college statistics, and to master Excel functions I didn’t even know existed. I sometimes feel like I did as a child taking piano lessons, when I would get so frustrated about a piece that I would end up practicing through tears until I finally got it. This course doesn’t make me cry, but it does sometimes test the limits of my determination. When I get that certificate of completion, I will feel very proud.

 

Next: winter term

I went to a college that had a winter term, during which students had time to do an intensive project or internship in between the fall and spring semesters. I’m taking a winter term this year to do a few practical business projects involving team work. First, I’m in a NovoEd course (co-presented with +Acumen) that involves financial modeling of a social enterprise and a substantial group work component. Second, I’m planning to do some group business games and simulations - more on that later. Finally, as treasurer of the employee association at the US Embassy in Kigali, I’m working on a restructuring of the Embassy’s commissary business. With these three group activities I’m planning to recreate at least part of the social learning component of a traditional degree.

 

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