February 13, 2017

Phase 2 – Creating a structure for an online course

Innovation Ideas image

As discussed in the previous blog, the ambassadors chose FutureLearn to be a potential online platform for the project.

Now that an online platform has been identified, the next stage is to come up with a structure/skeleton for the online resources relating to family business education. The main purpose is to come up with an effective structure by understanding how the teaching materials are currently available in the field of family business education and how they can be organized.

To achieve this objective various online courses on FutureLearn and Coursera (US based) were analysed and the focus was on analysing the courses relating to the field of business. Currently, there are no courses relating to family business education on Coursera and FutureLearn so for research purposes the closest field to analyse were the generic business courses. Some courses on the platform are free and some charge a set fee of around £20 to £34. The purpose of the fee is attaining the certification and if they do not require any certification then the course is free. Various courses were audited from prestigious universities around the world.

Analysis of existing courses

For this blog, few courses from two Italian universities (Universitá Bocconi and Sapienza University of Rome) will be discussed here. Although more courses from other universities were analysed.

Universitá Bocconi review

In regards to Bocconi, the following online courses were audited:

  • International leadership and organizational behaviour
  • Management of fashion and luxury companies
  • Food & beverage management
  • Financing and investing in infrastructure
  • Private equity and venture capital

The following findings are from the selective Bocconi courses:

  • A section at the start containing an introductory video to the course and useful additional information.
  • Discussion Forums at the end, as an important tool in the course where you can share doubts and difficulties, but also suggest and stimulate discussions around topics that you find interesting.
  • Videos.
  • Google+ community that the user can use to meet all the people who have already taken this course back from its first edition. This community will always be open representing a convenient way to remain in contact after the course ends.
  • The user can add their location to an interactive map so that in our case the Centre for Family Business can see how widespread its community is around the globe.
  • Bocconi has created a pre-course survey where all questions are completely optional and the survey is intended to help it learn more about its participants (some examples of the questions include; In what country, do you currently live? Have you got a degree? Which kind of degree have you got? What is your job position? Do you intend to earn a final certification?)

On each course, there is an overview about:

  1. Introduction to the course (Video)
  2. Grading Policy:
    • Final grade that explains how the final grade is calculated (for example: Module 1’s quiz constitutes 15% percent each). The users need to obtain a final grade of at least 70% for each quiz (7 correct answers out of 10 questions)
    • Quizzes: How many questions for the quiz?
    • Course certificate: the users must pass all the assessment tasks and if it is possible to confer or no credit or degree
  3. Surviving the course:
    • Recommend background
    • Course format: the classes consist of video lecturers which are about 10-15 minutes in length, plus slides, reading and quizzes
    • FAQs

Normally, a Bocconi’s course last 5-6 weeks. Every week comprises of a module; each module is composed of 5-6 chapters and a conclusion, a final quiz and study materials (video, slides, links and reading). On Coursera, it is also possible to save the user’s assignments and the discussions. Moreover, the user can also download the lecture videos with subtitles.

It is noted that the structure of the Bocconi courses is very like each other. There are some differences on the cost of the course to obtain the certification (£20-33). To evaluate the course participants learning, some courses have weekly quizzes and some have a final test only.

On the ‘Management of fashion and luxury companies’ there are also guest interviews and case studies, Pinterest boards to share thematic pictures created by users and in the introduction of the course there is a brief description about the professors of the course and their picture.

Sapienza, University of Rome review

As far as the Sapienza’s courses are concerned, the courses are mainly focused in topics such as history, architecture and physics, so the focus of the ambassador was more on the Bocconi’s course. But the main features from Sapienza are that:

  • The courses last average 10 weeks
  • There are especially video lectures as study materials
  • There is a quiz for each module and a final test for the certificate
  • There are Italian and English videos with subtitles.

FutureLearn and Coursera

It is understood after the research by the Digital Ambassador that there is no generic structure that is used on all courses listed on FutureLearn and Coursera. However, the structure and the content of the course depends on the topic being discussed and who is the tutor of the course.

Proposed structure for the course (based on research)

After exploratory research, the digital ambassador came up with the draft structure for the online resources for family business education which outlines as follows:

  • Insert on the top of the web page an image that represents the course in family business
  • Brief description about the course in family business, objectives to achieve and the learning outcomes of the course
  • A brief description on instructors or teachers of the Centre for Family Business and their background
  • Course syllabus definition of an agenda that describes what topics will be covered during the course and their order
  • Recommend prerequisites if is necessary
  • Course format (every module will consist of study materials, videos lecturers, can do a weekly quiz and suggested readings.
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Commitment of the student during the course participation (about hours of study)
  • Language of the course with possible subtitles in different languages ​​(English and Italian)
  • How to pass the exam with a possible final certification?
  • User ratings to control the user experience that have participated in the course in Family Business and understand any future improvements
  • A brief description about Centre for Family Business at the bottom of the website
  • FutureLearn will also allow the user to share the course in Family Business in the major social channels.

Next post:Phase 3: Strategic plans for the innovative online courses

Previous post: Phase 1: Selecting the platform for an innovative online course