Despite posting this today, I actually started this class a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I kept notes on my first impressions so I can share them with you here, even though I’m about half-way through the course at this point.
Intro to Operations Management is part of the four-class Wharton Foundations series of MBA classes Wharton is offering through Coursera (the others are Intro to Marketing, Intro to Financial Accounting, and Intro to Corporate Finance – all of which I am taking as part of my DIY MBA).
The same, but different
First of all, I find it remarkable that given the exact same setup as Financial Accounting (webcam in office), this professor is somehow engaging and entertaining so far. I think part of this is because he spent a few minutes doing a personal introduction, talked about his background and hobbies, and even took us on a video tour of his office at Wharton. I know it sounds like a trivial thing, but that personal touch made an impact with me (and I’d imagine with the other Courserians as well).
I’d guess that organization is a strength for most Operations-types, and that is certainly the case for this professor. This class is very well thought-out in terms of structure, content, and scheduling.
This class offers two different routes to completion – an academic track and a practitioner track. Both options use the same video lecture material, but they differ in the deliverables. The academic track requires homework assignments, quizzes, and a final exam. Those that follow the practitioner track are exempt from the assignments, quizzes, and final exam, but are required to submit a real-life operations project. The project is broken down into five milestones that correspond to the content covered in each of the modules (topics) the class covers.
This is the first time I have seen an option like this, and I really like the idea. Both tracks lead to a statement of accomplishment in the end, but there are some subtle differences in the wording of the certificate depending on which route you choose. FYI – I’m going the practitioner route, and intend to combine this class with a real-life project I’ll do at work.
Lots of work
Though I’m excited for this class, it does seem like it’s going to be a lot of work. I think the 5-7 hours/week estimate will end up being a bit on the low side for those of us to take the practitioner track, as it will likely take a considerable amount of time to complete a real operations project. Then again, I guess that’s “on-the-clock” time, not “Coursera time,” strictly speaking. We’ll see.
Engaging video lecture style
I like the way this professor uses relatively empty PowerPoint slides and then fills them in with on-screen writing as he is talking. This has the same look-and feel as a professor lecturing and drawing things on a chalkboard, but internet-ized. The video lectures are also concise at about 8-12 minutes, which is appreciated.
This professor uses mid-lecture quizzes. Basically, the video stops and a multiple-choice question pops up that you have to answer before the video will proceed.
From what I can tell, you get two tries before the answer is provided for you (if you got it wrong twice). These don’t impact your grade, and are just there to reinforce the key points of the videos. This is the first time I have seen this used, and I actually kind of like it.
As with all of these First Impressions posts, please keep in mind that they are exactly that – my first impressions of a course. It is plausible, perhaps even likely, that my first impression will be wrong and my opinion of the course will change over time. Please read my Full Review posts about these courses in the Curriculum section (written upon completion of the course) for the full story.