It doesn't quite roll off the tongue yet but we've got to admit it's a clever direction to take a MOOC. NovoEd, the Menlo Park-based massive online course program that aims to support social learning, is debuting on August 15 an online entrepreneurship program. Supporting schools are big names in the business school world including Stanford University, Babson College (which has consistently topped the US News & World Report list of "entrepreneurship education" since 1995) and the Kauffman Fellows Academy among others. The program debuts with more than a dozen courses, including “Technology Entrepreneurship” offered in English, Mandarin, and Spanish by Stanford's Chuck Eesley. Notable by his absence is Stanford's Steve Blank, who offers his own "How to build a startup" class over at Udacity.
In contrast to the early big three MOOCS (Coursera, Udacity and EdX) NovoEd aims to support collaboration among students. Co-founder and CEO Amin Saberi says that it doesn't matter how many people are part of the lecture aspects of classes but the sweet size for collaborative groups is between 4 and 10 people. Completion rates on NovoEd have been relatively speaking high: 17% of the students who sign up complete a class (and half of those who finish the first assignment also finish the class.)
Since it debuted earlier this year, NovoEd reports that 458,600 students (in 152 countries) have taken its classes. More interesting: NovoEd says that 56,190 project teams have been formed and that they've created about 1,500 businesses (or at least a marketing page and pitch deck) via NovoEd.
NovoEd is also using the data generated by students' activities to both help match them with the most suitable teammates--and most intriguingly--to improve the assessments of their work.
"If you have a submission from a certain [person's] profile, who would be the right person to match the assignments so they can give the 'most accurate' evaluation and feedback," Saberi says. By "most accurate," Saberi means an evaluation that most closely corresponds to what the professor (or say, the professor and a small number of top assistants) would be likely to give.
NovoEd offers a mixture of free and fee-based programs. (NovoEd splits any revenue with the course provider). Students can earn certificates of accomplishment.
Saberi says NovoEd will expand beyond entrepreneurship programs but for now he's excited about giving people in regions other than Silicon Valley and a few other entrepreneurial hotspots a chance to learn how to start their own business and change their lives: "Empowerment is the focus of NovoEd.