Lee Nagy, an associate dean at Southern Technical College in Brandon, Fla., chose to take Allon's Udemy course even though she already holds an M.B.A. and a master's degree in education and human resource development from University of Findlay. She's hoping to use the class to prepare herself for a deanship role at Southern Technical, she says.
"This will be a good review—my M.B.A. feels dusty," she wrote on the Udemy course message board.
Business school students and applicants should consider taking online courses such as those through Udemy and the MIT OpenCourseWare, but not in lieu of an M.B.A., according to Nagy. "It all comes down to balance," she says. M.B.A. students "shouldn't become so busy with these courses ... that they miss out on the meat of the courses they are actually paying for."
[Read about how some schools help students go directly from B.A. to M.B.A.]
"It's definitely not a replacement [for an M.B.A.], because you of course don't get a degree," agrees Valerie Wilson, a student in the Udemy business strategy course taught by Lenox, the Darden professor. Wilson, the marketing director at RightStar Systems, a Vienna, Va.-based IT company, says it's been a long-term goal of hers to get an M.B.A., and the Udemy course won't affect that ambition.
Benjamin Ho, an economics professor at Vassar College who is teaching Economics of Energy and the Environment on Udemy, also sees the free courses as supplements, rather than substitutes for traditional courses.
Free courses provide enrichment and application, rather than fundamental knowledge, so they can be useful for students who don't have room in their schedules to take a course on campus, according to Ho. "But for students who are interested in working in this area, the course might inspire them to take a more formal course."
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