You might view summer as a time to kick back and re-charge. But if you’re a superstar professor like Ross’ Gautam Kaul, the summer is the perfect time to draw a big audience and build your brand.
Come June 2nd, Kaul is back with his uber-popular Introduction to Finance course on Coursera. How popular? According to Bloomberg Businessweek, his first go-round attracted over 130,000 students. Be warned: This isn’t MBA Lite. Judging from Kaul’s syllabus, this 15-week course is structured very similar to his on-campus one.
But that seemingly doesn’t bother many students, based on student reviews on CourseTalk, a forum for MOOC participants. The course, while earning a 3.5 star rating on CourseTalk’s 5.0 scale, proves that, despite high dropout rates, students welcome a more rigorous curriculum:
“Prof. Gautam Kaul covers all the basics using clear, simple explanations with much personal wit and charm. Lectures and other material are very well produced…This course does require time and effort, but is suitable for those with no prior background. Most of the computations are just arithmetic, but you still have to work through them carefully…Highly recommended!”
- Winthrop Yu
“I am convinced that one would learn as much as you would paying money to take a similar course at the University of Michigan. This is because most learning is accomplished individually. It takes time to listen to the lectures and to do the many problems.”
- Unnamed Student
I took this course a year ago and I actually retained a lot of the knowledge because the course really gets to the essence. This is also what makes the course difficult as in the tests you really have to apply the basic theory to questions far beyond what you got in class…I liked this set up as I knew I could only get into the tests if I was really certain I had deeply understood the concept. So all energy goes in thinking about one issue and how everything is connected.”
- Dennis Wagenaar
Alas, Kaul has his detractors on CourseTalk. Some students claim that he doesn’t “value [our] time,” with lectures that are “unnecessarily long and contain some irrelevant anecdotes, philosophy, [and] overly patronising advice.” Others chime in about inaccurate problem sets that don’t include answers or explanations. But these are the normal challenges in bringing an educational solution to market (Just ask any textbook publisher). With MOOCs, professors like Kaul have the opportunity to apply feedback with each successive course delivery.
Along with Introduction to Finance, the University of Michigan is starting up its acclaimed Model Thinking course on June 2. The University of Illinois is jumping into the MOOC marketplace, translating their Subsistence Marketplace course (ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the top entrepreneurial courses) into an online juggernaut. Darden’s Michael Lenox is back for another go-round of his Foundations of Business Strategy MOOC. And Columbia University returns with the first part of its innovative Economics of Money and Banking franchise.