Come January 2013, Professor Edward Hess will face a unique challenge -- teaching an online business course with an expected enrollment of as many as 50,000 people.
Hess's five-week course, Smart Growth for Private Businesses, is a MOOC, or massively open online course. According to Poets & Quants, it will be the first of its kind to be offered from University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, in partnership with the online start-up Coursera. Coursera, which launched in April of 2012, has enrolled some 1.57 million students and offers its courses free of charge. 34,000 people have already signed up for the Darden course, which, according to Poets & Quants, is one of the few business courses offered on Coursera. Hess shares his excitement regarding the size of the course: "If you asked me in June what you would be thrilled at, I would have said 3,000 people would be phenomenal. That's ten times the numbers of students I teach in a year."
If enrollment reaches 50,000, it will likely make for the single largest audience for a business course and will surpass the number of students Darden has graduated since it was founded almost 60 years ago. Hess, who normally teaches no more than 300 students at a time in his in-person courses at Darden, will film five 90-minute courses in a television studio for the MOOC class, according to the article. Video modules, Power Point slides, and interactive quizzes could comprise class components. An online forum will also be available for students.
Like other Coursera courses, the Darden MOOC course will be offered free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection. Students who pass the course will earn a certificate of completion.