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Harvard Business School Will Venture Into Online Teaching

The famously cloistered Harvard Business School will soon offer online courses, although it has not quite decided how.

The business school, known as HBS, is currently developing online courses that it will market under the banner HBX. The news, first reported by Bloomberg, comes as a number of prestigious business schools, notably Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, have begun offering MOOCs on business and finance.

Harvard University itself recently began offering massive open online courses through edX, a nonprofit organization it founded last year with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But Brian C. Kenny, chief marketing and communications officer for HBS, told The Chronicle that the school had not yet decided if it would use edX’s platform, or even whether the courses would be broadcast as MOOCs.

HBS first has to figure out exactly how to translate its trademark educational experience online, he said. HBS is a champion of the case method, a pedagogical technique that relies on intensive interactions among students and faculty members. “Whether or not the case method can work online,” said Mr. Kenny, “is a question that we haven’t answered yet.”

A job posting for HBX, from July, suggests that HBS is planning to make money from its online activities, MOOCs or not. The posting, which was removed in late August, calls for a sales and marketing expert who can “develop a deep understanding of the online-learning market and collaborate with constituents across Harvard Business School to successfully market and sell HBX’s product line.”

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