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McGill University (CLAUDIO CALLIGARIS)
McGill University (CLAUDIO CALLIGARIS)

BUSINESS SCHOOL NEWS

Meet GROOC: McGill's new online course has a group-learning twist Add to ...

The Globe’s biweekly business-school news roundup.

First came the MOOCs, referring to massive open online courses that offer free access to higher-education learning through the Internet. Now comes the GROOC: a group-based version of MOOCs developed and delivered by professors at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, including internationally recognized management guru Henry Mintzberg.

So far, students from more than 100 countries have signed up for Social Learning for Social Impact, an 11-week online course beginning Sept. 16 with the goal of inspiring global collaboration on sustainable social change.

“We want to encourage, as much as possible, those who register to come in as a group or to join a group, because it is the belief that social learning does not [just] happen,” says faculty lecturer Leslie Breitner, one of four architects of the course with Prof. Mintzberg, Desautels faculty member Carlos Rueda and Anita Nowak, a faculty lecturer on social entrepreneurship and senior project manager with McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services. “You can’t learn socially if you are just by yourself.”

In addition to these teachers, the course will feature more than 20 scholars and practitioners in the field of social innovation, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, according to McGill.

As a group-oriented initiative, the course aims to encourage collaborative, not solitary, approaches to learning, with about 30 trained volunteer facilitators recruited by Desautels to provide feedback and monitor small and large group discussions. “We want this to be the first personalized massive MOOC,” says Mr. Rueda.

Prof. Breitner says the design of the course draws from past experiences in successful teaching innovation in two of the faculty’s executive education programs – the International Masters for Health Leadership (where she serves as its international director) and the school’s International Masters in Practicing Management, founded by Prof. Mintzberg.

Both mid-career executive programs feature a mix of online and in-class instruction, with the emphasis on promoting personal and class reflection, peer-to-peer interaction and opportunities for participants to connect theory and practice.

When McGill began experimenting with MOOCs – four so far with a fifth expected shortly – Prof. Breitner says “we all thought it would be a great idea to use the format of the MOOC to try and share the unique pedagogy of the [executive education programs] IMHL and the IMPM. ... Over time we realized we were our own social initiative and that morphed into what is now [the new course].”

Like Desautels’s mid-career programs, the GROOC is designed to facilitate collaboration among participants.

Those who sign up will organize themselves in teams, each with a designated chat space on the platform of the edX consortium, the online learning provider developed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McGill is a member of the consortium.

Some participants may join as a team, with a project already in mind. Others will have a couple of weeks at the start of the course to find like-minded participants and form a team.

The members of each team (groups of four to 10 participants) can communicate with each other through their own chat space on the edX platform, or the members can communicate face-to-face if possible.

“The process is as important as the content in this course,” says Mr. Rueda, who worked on the GROOC course design with others over the past two years.  “You will be reflecting on yourself and with your team, and you will be engaging in action to develop your social initiative.”

Prof. Breitner adds: “We were inspired on the pedagogy [of the two masters programs] in the context of providing guidance to those who want to start a social initiative of some kind.”

At the end of the course, students will be asked to contribute to an “impact gallery” to share what they have learned and, where possible, to show off specific projects initiated during the course. Afterward, course participants will be encouraged to stay in touch with each other so their projects can live on in a sustainable fashion.

For more information, click here.

Corporate governance ‘trailblazer’ recognized

David R. Beatty, an adjunct professor of strategic management and Conway Chair of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, has been honoured by the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries as a “true trailblazer.”

In a press release, Rotman cited the comments of one judge on the awards committee: “Prof. Beatty has remained focused on the goal of improving governance throughout his career and his work has gone a long way to legitimize corporate governance in Canada.”

He received the Peter Dey Governance Achievement Award at the society’s annual corporate governance conference last month.

Thompson Rivers University names business-school dean

Michael Henry, a former associate dean of the School of Business at Alberta-based MacEwan University, has been tapped as dean of the business school at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C.

A former Alberta provincial politician and long-time academic, Dr. Henry joined MacEwan’s business school in 2004, where he was recognized for his role in developing the school’s bachelor of commerce degree and expanding international academic partnerships.

His five-year term began Aug. 1.

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net

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