Darden Prof. offers free course online
Lenox to teach introductory business class through free website lectures
The University plans to participate this semester in a trial program launched last week called The Faculty Project, which allows professors to record their lectures online and make them available to the general public for free.
The Faculty Project is one of the programs marketed by Udemy, a for-profit organization which uses videos, discussion boards and article archives to teach online courses.
"Our target audience is anyone who is interested in lifelong learning, such as business students, students who want to attain their MBA or students that would like to take courses that they weren't able to before," Faculty Project Director Tim Parks said. "We want to create an ongoing resource that builds access for the future."
Batten Institute Executive Director and Darden School Prof. Michael Lenox plans to teach a course this semester called Foundations of Business Strategies for The Faculty Project.
In his courses, Lenox plans to synergize classroom and online lectures, though the online course will not reflect the classroom discussion.
More than 900 students have currently registered to take part in Lenox's course.
"There is a hunger for broader life-long learning, and people always try to learn more about practical subjects such as business," Lenox said. "[The course is] pitched at a level that is applicable to both graduates and undergrads."
Parks said 4,000 students have already registered with The Faculty Project since the program launched on Jan. 26.
"In addition to testing the waters for new forms of learning, these courses also make classroom time more efficient," Parks said. "Instead of continuously rehashing information in class, professors can convey core knowledge on the Internet and require their students to watch the videos before class, making the class lecture more useful and interactive."
There are more than 100 students enrolled in every class in The Faculty Project. Classes are not capped, however, according to Udemy co-founder Gagan Biyani.
Lenox, though, said online discussion boards with more than 65 students make it impossible for students to exchange ideas effectively.
"I think what is happening is that standard lectures are becoming commodified," Lenox said. "The real value is from the classroom experience."
Lenox said he admired Udemy for democratizing education and maintaining a very high level of engagement. "The market potential goes far beyond ... who is enrolled," he said. "People are always involved in the business community."
Other participating schools include Duke University, Stanford University and Dartmouth College.