The CDM offers a first successful MOOC on Entrepreneurship

MOOC Students in refugee camps in Ghana © 2015 EPFL

MOOC Students in refugee camps in Ghana © 2015 EPFL

The first MOOC offered by the College of Management of Technology (CDM) on “Launching New Ventures,” tailored for entrepreneurs in Africa, has encountered a lot of success with over 9’900 learners registered on the Coursera Platform.

What is a MOOC?
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at nearly unlimited participation and open access via the web. In 2012, EPFL joined platforms Coursera and edX. Numerous EPFL MOOCs became very popular, such as Martin Odersky’s MOOC on Scala programming language (over 50’000 students and 10’000 certificates delivered). EPFL has not only ‘exported’ its high quality content, but also is co-creating courses with top universities within the RESCIF (Network of Excellence in Engineering Sciences of the French-speaking Community) and MOOCs for Africa network. Responding to specific requests from EPFL’s partners to offer an entrepreneurship course, CDM joined the efforts and offered its first MOOC in spring 2015 called “Launching New Ventures”.

Course content
Launching New Ventures is a course on the topic of entrepreneurship and strategy for new, technology-driven ventures. Professors Marc Gruber and Chris Tucci are the main speakers of the course, but a range of entrepreneurs worldwide have also been interviewed for the occasion, giving an international and practical perspective on the topic.
The course was given over a period of 5 weeks between May and July 2015. The course includes short weekly lecture videos, quizzes, interactive activities, and a final venture concept proposal.

Target & Partnerships

The course was designed for all persons willing to start a new venture or searching for a growth opportunity, and especially sought to be applicable to entrepreneurs in emerging economies. Thanks to the support of EPFL’s MOOCs for Africa initiative, this course features interviews with top African entrepreneurs, which help students to see the course material applied to a real venture. The stories from around the world hopefully help students realize that entrepreneurship is not just a Silicon Valley phenomenon. With the understanding that MOOCs are still a new trend in some regions of the world, and internet access remains a limiting barrier, CDM established partnerships with a number of organizations, including OUWA (Open University of West Africa) in Ghana, Kepler University in Rwanda, and MyAfricanStartup, an online platform for African startups. Five of the top performing new venture teams have been invited to an intensive entrepreneurship workshop in Switzerland, hosted at EPFL and CERN.

To this day, the course has reached over 9’900 learners, 42% of which are from emerging countries, and 13% from Africa. OUWA, EPFL’s academic partner in Ghana issued 42 Certificates of Participation and 23 Certificates of Completion.
Out of the 42 Certificates of Participation, 16 were issued to the Ampain Refugee Camp and 26 to the Krisan Refugee Camp (both in Ghana). Out of the 23 Certificates of Completion, 10 were issued to Ampain Refugee Camp and 9 to Krisan Refugee Camp.

The videos have been viewed over 68’000 times, over 5’400 exercises have been submitted. 86 students paid a registration fee to be on the Signature Track.

Future perspectives
This first MOOC offered by the CDM has been a real success, considering the high numbers of learners and in particular the percentage of African learners. In order to conclude on a high note, the top 3 performers of the MOOC will be welcomed at EPFL in November 2015.
The College will not stop in such good way and has actually 6 other MOOCs in production phase:

  • Credit Risk (Pierre Collin-Dufresne)
  • Engineering Economy (Thomas Weber)
  • Global Macroeconomic Environment (Luisa Lambertini)
  • Interest Rate Models (Damir Filipovic)
  • Knowledge Economics (Dominique Foray)
  • Management of Urban Infrastructures (Matthias Finger)

Let’s hope they will encounter as much success as this one!