Online education is at an exciting moment. To understand how we at Harvard Business School think about it, and where we're going, we thought it would first be useful to describe where we're coming from.
The "case method" approach to business education - now practiced around the world - is synonymous with HBS. It's an approach to teaching and learning that is both exciting and demanding; both inspiring and challenging. And it's based, ultimately, in two simple principles: real-world problem solving and active learning.
Real-world Problems, Active Learning.
Our approach toward research, teaching, and learning at HBS is rooted in practical, real-world understanding of managerial challenges. It's an approach that marries rigor and relevance, not one without the other. Faculty explore important managerial problems in their research and case-writing. Students are exposed to these same issues in the classroom.
But it's not enough to read or hear about these problems. Students are active participants in grappling with them. The case method is about students sharing relevant experiences with others – and figuring out the theory to organize and understand those experiences. It's about conversation – curated conversations rather than unstructured ones. It's about analysis, judgment, communication, and listening.
The case method requires active engagement by every student. No one's a tourist. It can be terrifying, uncomfortable, and challenging. You learn from mistakes. And that's a powerful experience. Students rarely forget when, or why, they were wrong. They also rarely forget the moments when they rose to the occasion to help others learn.
That's our philosophy. That's the way it's been for over 100 years. And, that's how we are trying to reimagine online business education: through real-world problem solving and active learning.
Welcome to HBX, a digital learning initiative powered by the faculty of Harvard Business School.
When we set out to create HBX, our mission was simple: To use technology to enhance our potential to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. We started with 100 plus years of experience in business education. We then sprinkled in every technological tool we had at our disposal. Finally, we mixed in the most critical ingredient of all, what we consider to be our secret sauce: our very own faculty, people who have spent their lives in passionate pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning.
With HBX, you'll discover that the digital learning tools are a means to an end. That doesn't mean we haven't tried to deploy these tools in a creative and ambitious way; on the contrary, we've poured hours into the conception of these learning instruments. However, the real focus has been on creating a learning experience that brings business education to life. At HBX, we believe that education should be cerebral, yes, but it should also be riveting, kinetic, social, and mind-bending. It should be a series of unanticipated discoveries that change your capacity to navigate the world.
In the months ahead, we'll be introducing you to the various components of HBX. We are starting today with our CORe program, our primer on the fundamentals of business. Soon, we will be introducing more specialized courses that focus on specific business topics. And finally, we will be introducing HBX Live!, a digital learning environment that will enable learners from all over the globe to connect in a real-time, one-of-a-kind studio classroom.
One final note.
These are the early days of online education, and we get that. Indeed, we consider the HBX of today to be very much a work in progress, and we know there will be fits and starts along the way. After all, we're all in learning mode right now.
But even though these are the early days, here is what we hope you will already see in HBX: our vision of business education, reimagined for the digital age. The case method, recast in the form of a bold, new experiment. Our commitment to the learning experience, with equal emphasis on both of those words. And a doubling down on our mission, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.
This is HBX.
We wouldn't be doing this without their help.
The Founding Donors of HBX have encouraged and challenged us to develop an innovative approach to business learning that takes full advantage of the amazing possibilities offered by digital technologies. We'd like to thank them for their generous support and creative ideas.
- Howard E. Cox Jr., MBA 1969
- The Lemann Foundation
- Scott Malkin, MBA 1983
- Hiroshi Mikitani, MBA 1993
- Mark Stevens, MBA 1989 and Mary Stevens