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UC Berkeley Haas School of Business to Offer New and Retooled Online Classes


Following its pilot last year of a range of new online courses for its MBA students, the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley is expanding its online offerings while also reworking some of the initial courses based on feedback from students and professors.

One of the three pilots offered online last year was “Power and Politics,” a popular MBA course taught by Professor Cameron Anderson. This year, the course will be offered again, but with a revamped website and platform designed to be more intuitive to use. Faster download times are also expected to improve the student experience, allowing for conversation that “mimics the in-person experience as much as possible, with back-and-forth and even spontaneous interjections,” Anderson said as part of an article on the Haas website. He noted that he got to hear from many more people as part of the online version of the class, through online class discussions and chats.

Students in the “Power and Politics” pilot, too, praised the advantages the new course delivery method presented. “With the web-based format, we had forums that allowed much deeper discussions than in-class conversations, and we had games and simulation tools that illustrated ‘Power and Politics’ concepts in a more interactive fashion,” said Philip Tam, MBA 14, who took the course last year.

Among the new online course offerings this year will be a hybridized version of “Social Media Marketing,” taught by Assistant Professor Zsolt Katona. In two sections of the course this fall, Katona will use web-based technology to deliver one-third of the course material, teaching the balance in the classroom. By videotaping and editing some of his lectures, Katona notes that he can produce better quality material, which students can access with greater flexibility. “Students can stop it anytime, ask questions and discuss it among themselves,” he says, adding that ensuing online discussions will allow him to hear opinions from everyone in class and incorporate them back into group discussion.

According to Adam Berman, executive director of online initiatives at Haas, online learning opportunities will continue to expand. To this end, the school plans to hire a new digital program manager. In addition, Abby Scott, who formerly held leadership roles in MBA Career Management and Executive Education, has been appointed associate director of online initiatives.

Berman, for his part, is happy to see an online transformation gain footing. “Just as we’ve seen technology and globalization transform other sectors over the last two decades, these same forces are now in the early stages of transforming higher education,” he said. “Education is one of the last areas of life to synch with our ‘digital-native’ population of students—who already live their lives through technology.”

Learn more about online MBA offerings at Haas.