As you may have seen from the project info, the objective of the ‘Developing online resources for Family Business Education’ project is to help family business leaders learn better and faster, using innovative digital teaching methods in order to offer learning resources to a broad and global audience.
As a first step, GulAhmed and Giuseppe identified the major platforms that are currently on the market that offer online courses which are designed for distant learning for a large number of users. This identification process is important in order to decide which platform is the best for our purpose defined in the project info and to make it easier for the participants from different geographical areas to access the course content through the selected platform.
Through the exploratory research, it was identified that there are platforms that provide online resources mainly for students rather than professionals. The main objective was to identify major platforms which:
- Make resources available for anyone (students and professionals), who is passionate about family business firms, globally.
- Had a greater reputation in terms of the number of partners registered (either University or businesses), number of registered users, number of present courses, number of topics covered and any recognition.
Once some platforms were selected detailed analysis was carried out in which different characteristics were compared across the selected platforms in terms of:
- type of organization
- type of customers
- languages offered
- social channels
Within these platforms, it was observed that there are almost no courses who cater both the students and the executives at the same time. Hence, creating a white spot for our project. There were no specific courses found which have the content relating to Family Enterprise Management. This shows a perfect opportunity to raise awareness regarding family business education and also a chance to increase the digital footprint of Lancaster which is the ultimate goal of the digital Lancaster project.
List of possible platforms:
- FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University, with the benefit of over 40 years of their experience in distance learning and online education. It has 111 partners from around the world. These include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School. They launched their first courses in September 2013 and since then 5,488,762 people have joined FutureLearn. Lancaster University one of the first partners.
- Coursmosis an online micro-learning platform. It offers approximately 50,000 lessons within approximately 11,000 courses with courses broken down into smaller lessons, typically no longer than three minutes each.  Launched in 2013, it has been attributed as the world’s first platform that supports micro learning. Coursmos simplify teaching & learning with the most powerful open education platform for both educators & students. Coursmos have rethought the learning process and built a proven system to get you the skills and knowledge you need to accomplish your goals. Its teaching tools allow instructors, trainers, schools, and companies to share and monetize their knowledge with online courses, tests, certificates, webinars, consultations and more.
- Courserais a venture-backed, for-profit, educational technology company that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs). Coursera works with universities and other organizations to make some of their courses available online, offering courses in subjects, such as: sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, data science, and many more. Founded in 2012 by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University. The current phase of business development is focused on user acquisition.  Currently some of the courses are available for free.  A list of ways to generate revenue includes verified certification fees (started in 2012 as Signature Track), specialization in areas of expertise.
- ExecOnline: Founded in 2012 by executives with over 40 years of experience in the corporate education space at companies such as the CLC/CEB, Thomson Learning, Embanet, 2U and Goldman Sachs. Their mission: to reinvent the way companies access executive development. With a goal of improving enterprise results, they realized the need to disrupt the traditional on-campus executive education market by making ExecOnline available for every executive. ExecOnline not only provides companies and their executives with a configurable, scalable, and easy-to-implement solution, but also provides access to elite institutions that each offer world-class instruction across a range of subject areas. As a result, enterprise adoption is easier for companies of all industries and sizes.
- edX: Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. With more than 90 global partners, with proud to count the world’s leading universities, non-profits, and institutions as its members. EdX university members top the QS World University Rankings® with our founders receiving the top honors, and edX partner institutions ranking highly on the full list.
It has been concluded that FutureLearn would be used for the first short pilot course for the Family Business Education. This is because it is preferable to start with a UK based platform and Lancaster University already have a partnership with FutureLearn which implies that there is an established pathway which can be followed to launched the first short pilot course.
Besides are existing project, in the future it is aimed that LUMS could have a dedicated website listed on Coursera (similar to http://online.stanford.edu) where new courses can be added, with new videos and teaching materials in order to enrich the content of online resources in the field of innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship. The Centre for Family Business will always have a partnership with this digital platform that will be the focal point for the user who wants to explore the possible resources to improve his/her skills and grow professionally and the user will be up to date on initiatives organized by LUMS on a site dedicated exclusively to online learning.
This is the first of three blogs for the case study. Read the second blog: Phase 2: Creating a structure for an online course and then the final blog: Phase 3: Strategic plans for the innovative online courses