Industries Education

Darden launches ‘massively open’ online course

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The University of Virginia Darden School of Business says that more than 52,000 students have registered for a massive online course designed to serve both students and entrepreneurs.

The class will be Professor Michael Lenox’s first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC). The six-week course will include lessons on the foundations of a successful business strategy.

“Entrepreneurs, small business owners and nonprofits often don’t have the resources to hire a consulting firm. Rather than have the students all analyze the same business, why not leverage their sheer numbers to do some good for others?” Lenox said in a statement. “Businesses and social ventures can benefit from the wisdom of crowds to perhaps learn something of value for their enterprise.”

Lenox, who is executive director of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, says the MOOC should benefit students, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. Students will gain the tools they need to conduct a strategic analysis, and entrepreneurs and nonprofits will learn from the competitive analysis that the students will provide.

Students in the class will conduct a strategic analysis of an organization for their final project. Lenox is encouraging entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizaitons to register for the couse to allow students to select them through an online forum.

Lenox is working with Rhodes Scholar and Oxford University graduate student, Nabeel Gillani, to analyze the effectiveness of this approach. Gillani’s master’s thesis in education explores the power of MOOCs to help solve challenges for others.

Gillani is creating a platform to scale the idea called, which matches organizations with courses to empower students to solve real-world problems.
Lenox’s “Foundations of Business Strategy” course is one of three courses offered on Coursera, by the Darden School this spring.

Interested organizations and students can register for the course at

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