For each course in my homemade MBA curriculum, I will provide before-and-after commentary – think of it as a Coursera course review. The before section will cover my expectations going into the course and any specific reasons I chose to take it. The after section will be a reflection of what I thought of the course (format, material, professor, workload, etc.), what I learned vs. what I expected to learn, and whether or not I would recommend it to others (and why). I hope this Coursera course-review format is useful for the rest of you out there who are making your own homemade MBAs using Coursera.
Homemade MBA Coursera course: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship
- Parent University: University of Maryland
- Description: Explore how to identify and develop great ideas into great companies. Learn how to identify opportunities based on real customer needs. Develop solid business models. Create successful companies.
Chosen to replicate the HBS MBA course: The Entrepreneurial Manager
- Description: This course addresses the issues faced by managers who wish to turn opportunity into viable organizations that create value, and empowers students to develop their own approaches, guidelines, and skills for being entrepreneurial managers.
Expectations going in:
- Based on the course description, I expect to learn a process for transforming an idea into a business.
- I expect to learn how to evaluate and rank/prioritize new business ideas.
Specific reasons I chose this course:
- I have always been somewhat entrepreneurial. I have started and operated businesses in the past prior to formal studying entrepreneurship, so I’m particularly interested in how to approach future ventures with more purpose and organization. Though my previous businesses were moderately successful, I wonder if they would have been more successful with a more thoughtful approach. I also studied entrepreneurship in grad school, so I hope to get a bit of a refresher, and to learn the latest “thoughtful approach” to evaluating business ideas by taking this course.
My thoughts of the course:
- Format – great
- 6 weeks, estimated 5 to 7 hours per week, video lectures with one quiz per week of material.
- A certificate of accomplishment is given to those who score over 70% in the course.
- Self paced! All the course material was available the day the class started, which is a huge perk to this class. I wish other courses would do this, as it lets us students work ahead when we have time so we can relax when other commitments prevent us from working on Coursera. This was the best feature of the format of this course.
- Material – basic
- This class faked me out by baiting me each week with a professionally produced video (professor in front of a green screen in a studio) introductions, but then switching to a pre-recorded in-class lecture for the majority (95%?) of the video lecture content. This was annoying, but as I mentioned in my first impressions post, it is kind of fun knowing that I got the exact same course content as the brick-and-mortar students in the classroom…but for free.
- The material was OK – not great, but not bad. The benefit of viewing pre-recorded, in-class lectures was that the professor had lots of time to go into detailed examples, and answer lots of questions. This was good for learning some concepts, but also made for very long videos, and lots of them. The pace was also very slow. However, with a quick adjustment of the video playback speed to 1.5x, or even 2.0x, the lectures were more tolerable.
- Overall, I think this was a good introduction to Entrepreneurship, and did provide some tools to help develop ideas into businesses, and to analyze new business venture ideas, which met my expectations for the course. Were my expectations exceeded? No, but they were met.
- Professor – ok
- My first impression of this professor wasn’t the best. As I mentioned in my first impressions post, the professor initially came across as if he was using his Coursera Entrepreneurship course to sell his book – the Opportunity Analysis Canvas (do I get a commission for sales resulting from that plug??). Unfortunately, he carried on referring to it a little too much throughout the course, and it left a sour taste in my mouth. That said, the professor did know was he was talking about, and did a pretty good job of illustrating key concepts with examples in the lectures.
- Workload – light
- The workload of this class was pretty much as advertised, or slightly under the 5 to 7 hour estimate. I found that with 4-5 hours of focused attention, I could get through one week of material. I found this to be a great balance, and took advantage of the self-paced format of the class to finish this entire course in about two weeks.
- Quizzes with essay questions. The weekly quizzes in this class were different than any other quizzes I have seen on Coursera. Some had standard multiple choice or fill in the blank, but the majority of the questions were free-text, essay response questions. There would be a prompt asking you to write a paragraph or two to describe some key concepts from the week, or to tell about a situation from your experience, or to use one of the tools on a hypothetical situation. Although it was pretty time consuming (e.g. a 10-question quiz quickly became 10-15 paragraphs of writing) process, I found that I liked it. I’m curious to know how my responses were graded (keyword algorithm? word count?) being that it is automated, but since I scored well on them, I went with it. It was an interesting format for a MOOC quiz.
- My final thought on this Coursera Entrepreneurship class is a word of caution to you, the reader; I may have been a bit harsh in my evaluation of this course. I studied entrepreneurship as a secondary area of concentration in grad school, so I think my expectations were a bit lofty for this class. Because I was already familiar with the basics, I should have probably sought a more advanced entrepreneurship class. This is a completely appropriate class to learn the basics of entrepreneurship in an academic environment.
What I learned vs. what I expected to learn
- As I indicated above, I feel that this class met, but did not exceed my expectations. Considering that it is a free entrepreneurship class, provided by Coursera, I think that this is a pretty positive review.
Would I recommend this course to others?
- I think this is a great intro to entrepreneurship class for other people out there making their own self study MBAs.
As a reminder, each course of my homemade MBA curriculum replicates a course from Harvard Business School’s first-year Required Curriculum (as noted here in my post explaining how I made my homemade MBA curriculum).
If you have any thoughts or questions about this course or my review of it, please let me know in the comments section below.