In the fall of 2011, a free online course was offered by Stanford University on the subject of artificial intelligence. The instructors were world-renowned experts in their field, and this massive open online course, or MOOC, wound up with an unprecedented enrollment of 160,000 students and ushered in a new era of virtual education.
But what if artificial intelligence isn’t your thing? The good news is that free resources are rapidly coming online for business owners and entrepreneurs, covering topics ranging from leadership to innovation to startups. Here’s a look at some of them:
Take the challenge: One recently launched offering is the 21 Day Leadership Challenge available at CultureSync.net. The challenge features management consultant Dave Logan, co-author of “Tribal Leadership,” in a series of three-minute videos delivered via email. Each video contains both information and a homework assignment, most of which take about 20 minutes to complete, with a few one-hour assignments mixed in. The three-week program promises greater confidence, along with a better ability to “light a fire of enthusiasm under (your) tribe.”
Leading innovation: Coursera.org is another major player in this space, with 33 university partners, including Columbia University, Duke University, Princeton University and Stanford University. Coursera offers the class “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses,” which starts in January, or “Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations,” which starts in February. The classes are offered by the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University respectively, and require a four- to eight-hour workload per week.
The long and the short of startups: If you’re looking for a quicker hit of learning and inspiration, consider the free videos available at StartupSchool.org from Y Combinator’s annual program. This year’s lineup included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann and famed angel investor Ron Conway. Each video is about 30 minutes.
And if those talks put you in the mood to join the startup scene, consider visiting Udacity.com to register for “How to Build a Startup.” The course is presented on demand by Steve Blank, the co-author of “The Startup Owner’s Manual.” Blank’s book and “Business Model Generation” by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur are the suggested, but not required, texts. Enrollment is fast and allows you to participate in discussion forums, view the eight lectures and track your completion percentage via a progress meter.
Whether you are looking at a slow end-of-year season or contemplating your New Year’s resolutions, it might behoove you as a leader and entrepreneur to jump onboard the MOOC bandwagon.
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