01 Jun 2006

Online Elective for MBA Students


Last fall, without ever setting foot in the classroom, some twenty MBA students took an elective course titled How to Lead — How to Live, taught by HBS professor D. Quinn Mills. Readings for the eight-week online course, a first at HBS, were drawn from Mills’s 2005 book, Leadership: How to Lead, How to Live, as well as from articles on leadership from the Harvard Business Review and the business press. Student-written assignments based on topics under study were posted on discussion boards on the course’s Web site, as were subsequent critiques and commentaries by the students.

In addition, each week students submitted written analyses of mini–case studies to Mills. For evaluation purposes, this array of written activities became the cyber equivalent of a student’s vocal participation in the physical classroom.

Mills, who plans to offer the course again in the fall, emphasizes that education at HBS remains unquestionably classroom-based. But he notes that for a select number of students, the online course provides “an interesting alternative and a different kind of experience.”


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