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Babson + Beyond

Bringing Entrepreneurship to the Masses

Andrew Corbett

Photo: Webb Chappell

At Babson for almost two years now, Andrew Corbett came to campus because he believes there’s no better place to teach entrepreneurship. Now the associate professor of entrepreneurship and director of The John E. and Alice L. Butler Venture Accelerator is helping Babson break new ground by teaching its first 100 percent Web-based program, Entrepreneurship 101 Online, geared to educate aspiring entrepreneurs about the skills needed to launch a business. Developed in collaboration with the staff at Babson Executive and Enterprise Education, the course was piloted as a traditional face-to-face program last fall and was well received, spurring the idea to offer it online for people around the world. Here Corbett shares some insights on teaching via the Web.

Have you taught online courses before?  Yes, in the past at other places, and I’ve used online as part of a course. But I think online education is evolving. What people thought of online courses maybe as little as two or three years ago, certainly 10 years ago, has changed.

How has online education changed?  Things have evolved dramatically. Back then an online course was a bunch of PDFs to read and some PowerPoints to watch. Now we’ll use various technologies. You can click and listen to a lecture. Click and read something. Click and find slides. CITG [Curriculum Innovation and Technology Group] built a beautiful interface that makes it easy to use. Students can do this on their own all week, and then we can come together once a week and discuss topics. They can interact, ask questions, virtually raise their hand.

Do you lose anything being online?  We get all the seeing, listening, and interacting with this technology. That’s the beauty of how this can work if it’s done well. The people in CITG and Exec Ed, they’re a great team. We’re way ahead of the curve than most places doing this. I don’t see online completely replacing an undergraduate education. There is so much more to education. But when it’s done well with the tools that we have, it’s very powerful.

What about human interactions?  Yeah, you might argue that there are certain advantages to face to face. You don’t get those spontaneous collisions. The pure networking isn’t there. Those things are great. But think of it this way. We already have people coming from Brazil, Nigeria, the U.K., California, Chicago. When we delivered this program last fall, three or four people flew in for this one-day session. One came from as far as India. This is a much better and more efficient way for them to learn this concept. —DC