Coursolve and edX Blend Online, Offline in MIT Startup Course

3/19/14Follow @gthuang

Here’s a snapshot of something happening at the intersection of crowdsourcing, online education, and entrepreneurship.

Boston-based edtech startup Coursolve is working with MIT and edX, the online education nonprofit, on a new Web class called “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?” The course is trying to connect students interested in entrepreneurship with companies and organizations that can use their help in the real world.

This is interesting because, for all their hype, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are struggling to engage and retain students. And it is clear that the best educational environments involve a mix of online and offline experience—which has given rise to the “blended learning” model. Coursolve and edX, which is led by a consortium of universities, are trying to bring that model to teaching entrepreneurship.

The seven-week course, labeled in the MIT catalog as 15.390x, started on Tuesday and is being taught by Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship (he’s also an Xconomist). More than 30,000 students were registered as of the first class—a mix of undergrads, graduate students, and business people. The focus will be on helping new ventures develop customer profiles and analyze market opportunities.

Nabeel Gillani, a co-founder of Coursolve, says in an e-mail that his company is “piloting a new ‘blended’ model—where the talent of the MOOC will connect with the talent of students and ventures on campus to collaborate and solve real-world problems.”

He adds that this is the “first time an MIT MOOC has facilitated digital experiential learning in this way.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • leonardwaks

    Coursolve had been used almost a year ago in a course on business strategy at the Darden School. Hundreds of MOOC students became linked to firms and participated in strategic decision making. MIT a bit late to this game,