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不花一分钱,免费上顶尖商学院

Jeff Schmitt 2013年12月27日

感谢大规模开放式在线课程的流行,有志之士现在不用参加GMAT考试、不用辞职、不用交学费,就能参加沃顿和斯坦福等顶尖商学院提供的免费在线课程,攻读MBA,免费获得顶尖商学院的优质教育。

    

    如果想要一个MBA学位,但你耽搁不起两年的光阴,也无力承受高达超过25万美元的学费、书本费、生活费,以及工资损失,怎么办?

    少年,请容许我给你出个主意。

    听好了,这个方案有点不落窠臼,它要求你具备很强的自律性。一切结束后,你就可以在你的简历中骄傲地写上接受过常青藤院校教育的经历。而且,它不会花费你一分钱。

    听起来好得令人难以置信?也许是。但我已经引起了你的注意。这是你在一节基础营销班上最先学到的知识之一。沃顿(Wharton),世界上最好的商学院之一,通过MOOC免费提供这些课程。

    MOOC是“大规模开放式在线课程”的英文首字母缩写,意指可以在全球各地通过互联网访问的课程。拜其灵活性所赐,广大学子都对它垂涎三尺。

    很难用言语来描述MOOC究竟是什么模样。套用大法官波特•斯图尔特的话说就是,“看到它时,你就知道了。”大多数MOOC依靠设置好的开始和结束日期,但也有少数由学生自定进程。它容纳学生的规模既可扩展至数万名,也可以是一个条件苛刻的小规模社区。学生们偶尔可以通过MOOC获得成绩和大学学分,但在大多数情况下,他们最终会收到一张结业证书。

    考试可以在监督下进行,但许多MOOC依靠信用制度。教科书往往是非强制性的(虽然一些课程配备了电子图书和供下载的软件)。尽管MOOC的教授主要通过视频和PPT文件授课,但许多教授也在留言板上跟学生实时互动,甚至还为在线学生专门留出了一部分上班时间。尽管MOOC以远程教育为基础,但许多学生组成了以地区为基础的在线社区。

    不过,所有MOOC都具备一个显著特征:面向所有人。这正是它们如此红火的原因所在。诚然,许多MOOC都是免费的,但它们正在吸引数以百万计的学生,这些学生恰恰是高等院校未来的潜在客户。这就是为什么课程时代( Coursera)、edX和Udacity等平台正在与大学开展内容合作。比如,edX最初与哈佛大学(Harvard)和麻省理工学院(MIT)结盟,后来又增加了加州大学伯克利分校(University of California at Berkeley)和德克萨斯大学(University of Texas),谷歌公司(Google)最近也加入了这个联盟。课程时代由斯坦福大学(Stanford)的教授发起,提供来自沃顿、哥伦比亚(Columbia)和耶鲁(Yale)等大学的课程。

    这种局面引发了一个问题:既然这些平台免费提供这么多优质内容,学生们还有必要进入大学学习吗?MOOC促进了全球的教育民主化进程(只要你连接上了互联网)。学生可以像对待宜家( IKEA)家具那样对待教育吗?   

    So you want an MBA, but you can't afford to take two years off and invest upwards of a quarter of a million on tuition, books, living expenses, and lost wages?

    Boy, do I have a proposition for you.

    Now, it's a little unconventional. And it'll require a load of self-discipline. When it's over, you'll have an Ivy League education on your resume. And it won't cost you a cent.

    Sound too good to be true? Maybe it is. But I got your attention. And that's one of the first things you learn in a foundational marketing class. And one of the world's best business schools -- Wharton -- offers one of those for free through a MOOC.

    MOOCs -- an acronym for massive open online courses -- are courses that can be accessed globally over the Internet. Thanks to their flexibility, students covet them.

    It can be hard to describe what a MOOC is. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, you "know it when you see it." Most MOOCs rely on set start and end dates, though a few are self-paced. They can be scaled to accommodate tens-of-thousands or just a select community. Occasionally, students can earn grades and college credit through MOOCs. Mostly, though, students receive a certificate of completion.

    Tests can be proctored, but many MOOCs rely on the honor system. Textbooks are often optional (though some courses come with eBooks and downloadable software). Although professors deliver content through videos and PowerPoint in MOOCs, many engage with students on message boards in realtime (and even keep office hours for online students). Although MOOCs are grounded in distance education, many students form regionally based online communities.

    Still, there is one characteristic that marks all MOOCs: They are available to anyone. And that's why they're booming. Sure, many MOOCs are free. But they're also drawing millions of students, potential future customers for universities. That's why platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity are partnering with schools to house content. For example, edX started as a consortium between Harvard and MIT -- and has since added the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas to its membership (along with recently joining forces with Google (GOOG)). Coursera was launched by Stanford professors and offers courses from the likes of Wharton, Columbia, and Yale.

    That raises the question: With so much content available for free, do students even need to enroll in college anymore? MOOCs have democratized education globally (provided you have an Internet connection). Could students treat education like IKEA furniture? 

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