Harvard Business School Launches Virtual Classroom in HBX Live

HBX Live in action. (PRNewsFoto/Harvard Business School)

HBX Live in action. (PRNewsFoto/Harvard Business School)

Harvard Business School‘s unique digital learning initiative HBX has formally announced the launch of HBX Live—a virtual classroom designed to reproduce the intimacy and synchronous interaction of HBS’s famed case method in a digital environment. It enables participants from around the world to engage in a dynamic and highly interactive discussion under the direction of an HBS professor.

HBX entered the digital learning platform market just over a year ago with the introduction of HBX CORe, an online program that teaches the fundamentals of business (Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting) to college students and recent workforce hires.

More recently, HBX announced the launch of Courses, a portfolio of online learning programs targeted at more senior managers.  The first offering in that series is “Disruptive Strategy” with Professor Clayton Christensen, renowned as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth. Both CORe and Courses are delivered through HBX’s innovative online platform, which was designed to create a highly interactive learning experience for online participants.

With HBX Live, no matter where participants are located, they can log in concurrently and join real-time, case-based sessions with Harvard Business School faculty who teach from the HBX Live Studio, located in the Boston-based facility of public broadcaster WGBH.  In the custom-designed studio, a high-resolution video wall mimics the amphitheater-style seating of an HBS classroom, with up to 60 participants displayed on individual screens simultaneously.

In addition, others can audit sessions via an observer model.  Sessions are expertly produced using still and roaming cameras, thus creating the look and feel for participants of being in a real classroom, where they can see both the professor and fellow students.

“Everything in the HBX Live Studio was designed to recreate the magic of the Harvard Business School case method classroom,” says Professor Youngme Moon, the School’s Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation.

“We then layered on some additional features to bolster the learning model even further.  The result is a deeply immersive and engaging experience that allows participants from around the globe to interact in a highly kinetic way,” Moon adds.

Alumni from the MBA Classes of 2000, 2005, and 2010, as well as the HBS Alumni Board, were recently invited to participate in a two-session pilot on leadership.  And CORe students had the opportunity to interact in real time with the CORe faculty and their peers, including one session where there were participants from more than 30 countries.

To date, twenty HBS faculty members have taught in the HBX Live studio, and feedback has been very encouraging.  For example, ninety-six percent of the HBS alumni who took part in the initial session said they wanted to participate in HBX Live again. Participants have lauded the way the platform transcends geographical boundaries.

“The energy my faculty colleagues and I can feel in the studio from students located around the world is incredible, and the interaction with participants is seamless and impressive,” says Professor Bharat Anand, faculty chair of HBX.  “As a result, we are exploring the use of the HBX Live facility for a variety of new purposes, from case-based teaching in virtual executive programs to research activities.”

The HBX Live team also plans to connect more broadly with alumni and Executive Education and Corporate Learning participants in the near future as well as continue to explore how to best integrate Live with other HBX asynchronous offerings to add the benefit of real-time synchronous learning.

Finally, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria says, “HBX Live will help us deliver on our promise of lifelong learning by giving us a new way to engage students and alumni—not just here in Boston, but around the globe—as their professional and educational needs evolve over the course of their careers.”

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