01 Mar 2017
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HBX: Reimagining HBS for the Digital Age

Re: Bharat Anand; Clayton Christensen; Mihir Desai; Michael Wheeler

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When considering how to enter the digital learning arena, HBS did what any startup would do. It began in 2012 by identifying a challenge: How to merge the unique elements of the HBS learning experience with the latest technology to create a powerful educational opportunity that would reach new audiences.

“We knew we wanted to bring the distinctive features of the HBS classroom — real-world cases and problem solving, active learning, and peer engagement — online,” says Professor Bharat Anand, a member of the initial development team who now serves as HBX faculty chair.

To achieve this, the HBX team built two platforms. The first platform, launched in 2014, houses HBX Credential of Readiness (CORe) and HBX Certificate Programs. CORe introduces students to business fundamentals through three courses — Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting — that feature multimedia cases, polls, virtual cold calls, and peer interactions to replicate the dynamics of the traditional classroom. Students complete the coursework on their own schedule while meeting regular deadlines. They are graded on participation and must pass a final exam. Targeted to serious learners, the multi week program has a remarkable 85 percent completion rate across cohorts. CORe is now offered at educational institutions in the United States and to students around the world. At HBS, CORe is playing an important role in level-setting learning at the start of the MBA program. It replaces the Analytics course for those students without a background in business and economics; more than half of the MBA Class of 2018 completed the program, including a significant number who took it voluntarily.

HBX Certificate Programs include courses ranging from six to eight weeks for individuals and leadership teams. Each course is led by a renowned HBS professor: Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen; Leading with Finance with Mihir Desai; and Negotiation Mastery with Michael Wheeler. Through online case discussions, debates, and assignments, participants learn concepts to apply within their organizations.

The second platform, HBX Live, is a virtual classroom housed in a Boston television studio where up to 60 people are engaged in real-time case discussions. The discussion leader — typically an HBS faculty member — sees participants arrayed on a wall of LED screens who interact digitally with the professor and each other through a proprietary interface that facilitates polling and chat, among other features. Launched in 2015, HBX Live collapses geography and enables a range of innovative learning and convening opportunities for alumni and Executive Education participants, among others.

The School has allocated significant resources to develop HBX, including leadership support from donors. While the ultimate goal is for HBX to be self-sustaining, gifts to the HBS Fund for Leadership and Innovation will help further HBX’s extraordinary potential to connect HBS with new audiences in compelling ways.

“Thoughtful engagement — with the material and among students — was at the center of our efforts in developing HBX,” says Anand. “These positive connections spur new ideas and are central to the future of online learning.”

(photo by Evgenia Eliseeva)

“The concept of ‘digital first’ guided us to distill the case study approach down to its basic tenets and then to reimagine how to express these tenets online.”

Bharat Anand, the Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration and HBX faculty chair

 

The control room during an HBX Live session. (photo by Katherine Taylor)

HBX Meets Demand for A Range of Learners

“CORe took some of the most intimidating content for a non-business major like me and delivered it in an active, engaging way.”
Sheneka Balogun, CORe graduate, nonprofit manager

“CORe took some of the most intimidating content for a non-business major like me and delivered it in an active, engaging way.”
Sheneka Balogun, CORe graduate, nonprofit manager


“HBX Live felt like a real classroom, or even like an enhanced classroom. The experience is so well designed and supported that I felt like I was sitting in the same room as my classmates.”
Diego Terceros, HBX Live participant, chemical engineering administrator

“HBX Live felt like a real classroom, or even like an enhanced classroom. The experience is so well designed and supported that I felt like I was sitting in the same room as my classmates.”
Diego Terceros, HBX Live participant, chemical engineering administrator


“You’d pose a question, and in the next 10 minutes you’d have five people chiming in trying to help you out. You get constant feedback and quick replies and answers. It really helps to reinforce the concepts.”
Krishna Rajendran (MBA 2018), CORe graduate

“You’d pose a question, and in the next 10 minutes you’d have five people chiming in trying to help you out. You get constant feedback and quick replies and answers. It really helps to reinforce the concepts.”
Krishna Rajendran (MBA 2018), CORe graduate


“I have already applied so much of what I learned. My strategy and message for my team and how we communicate with our customers has begun to shift.”
Paige Peterson, participant in Disruptive Strategy certificate program, sales manager

“I have already applied so much of what I learned. My strategy and message for my team and how we communicate with our customers has begun to shift.”
Paige Peterson, participant in Disruptive Strategy certificate program, sales manager

 

To learn more about HBX, please visit www.hbx.hbs.edu.

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