2012-08-24

Co.Exist

A Free Online Class From Wharton To Get You Started On Business School

It’s not for credit, of course, but maybe it will whet your appetite. The University of Pennsylvania’s business school is the latest A-list educational institution to offer free online learning.

Want an MBA without having to hang out with all those MBA types? The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world’s top business schools, is offering it’s first free online course this year. Starting on August 27, Wharton’s Kevin Werbach will teach a course on Gamification Techniques in the Business World via Coursera.

The course, which will be taught entirely online, is Wharton’s first free offering. Fast Company has previously reported on Coursera’s aggressive outreach efforts to A-list universities.

"The innovative thing about Coursera is it’s on a massive scale. 45,000 students have signed up. Unlike real life, the course is asynchronous," Werbach says. "It looks very different from a traditional class. The assessments, for instance, are designed to be machine-graded or peer-evaluated by fellow students."

While the course is branded with the Penn logo, it is a non-credit course with a certificate of accomplishment for successful students. Werbach, a FCC consultant and associate professor of legal studies at Wharton, already teaches two for-credit courses on gamification and business at the school. Due to the challenges and benefits of scaling out to a class of 45,000, the syllabus for the online class has been built from scratch. Students are expected to spend four to eight hours a week on coursework.

Werbach is also known as an avid World of Warcraft player whose All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In World Of Warcraft talk went viral in 2009. In the lecture, Werbach extracted business lessons on everything from virtual economies to statistical analysis and teamwork from the popular adventure game.

In the free Wharton course, Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Foursquare user behavior are held up as examples of gaming concepts that can be leveraged for the business world. Students will examine psychology, game thinking, and design through the spectrum of gamification. According to promotional materials, the course is intended for students in business, IT, design, engineering, games studies, and related fields.

Besides using students to crowdsource critiques of papers, forums will also play an integral part in the course. TAs will sometimes contribute to the forums as well. Students will watch short lectures by Werbach, follow readings linked to in the syllabus, and participate in multiple-choice and freeform evaluations. All students who receive a passing grade on a final exam will receive a certificate of accomplishment.

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