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Harvard Business School - Bringing Technological Educational Programming to the Business Leaders of Tomorrow—HBX

Updated on July 15, 2014

HBX - Changing Harvard's methodology

After a century of providing the most comprehensive, challenging teaching methodologies to the world’s business leaders and innovators of tomorrow, Harvard Business School was ready for something extraordinary for the next generation. Faculty were searching for the way to take Harvard’s already elite learning to the next level. How to reach a changing world culture of young people connected to the Internet in ways never before imagined? How to be a force in this new Internet-based environment of interactions, so radically different from tradition? How to continue and strengthen the momentum of Harvard’s innovation and educational leadership? The answer: HBX - an exciting digital classroom, launching in stages this summer.

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The Harvard Business School case study teaching methodology

The Harvard Business School (HBS) approach has always been to deliver education that has practical use in the real world. Its case study teaching methodology set the standard for all business education institutions. By delving into actual case studies of real challenges in business management, students have the opportunity to truly “feel” the impact of the situation - to learn what it is like to be in the hot seat of the one who has to make quick and tough decisions. Every student is engaged, no one can sit out. Students learn how to analyze, communicate, listen and work together, gaining collaborative thinking and decision-making skills key to their future as business leaders of the world. As a graduate of Harvard Business School, Students attest that the analytic skills gained from the case study model plays a critical role in their development as a business leader.

In designing HBX, it was important to faculty to maintain these key elements of the HBS approach to business education.

Learning with digital technology

Image courtesy of artur84 /
Image courtesy of artur84 /

HBX – digital learning initiative at Harvard Business School

Building on its foundation of innovative business education and keeping the key component of the Harvard education front and center -faculty, HBS launched HBX. HBX is a digital education tool, designed as a means to enhance educational delivery, to increase the creative and dynamic environment for the student body. Designers wanted to bring business education to life, and HBX does that. Nothing of HBS’s cerebral approach to business education is diminished by HBX. But now there is the added ingredient of a moving, captivating, totally out-of-the-box digital format, enabling an entirely new arena of educational outreach to be achieved.

HBX delivers an individualized learning environment - students learn at their own pace and time schedule. Yet at times, teams of students will be online together. The cold-call, in the “hot seat” learning tradition in the regular HBS classroom will be duplicated in the HBX format. One student may be given a situation and be required to propose solutions within a set period of time, and then other students will be required to comment on the proposed solutions.

The first offering of the HBX package is CORe a beginning primer on the fundamentals of business. A second component will involve more specialized courses, and ultimately, HBX Live, which will be a virtual learning experience for participants from around the world. HBX will be significantly different from the massive open online courses currently been offered through the Harvard-MIT online learning partnership. It is using branded technology, the courses are fee-based, and students must apply, as opposed to the open enrollment of other online programs.

HBX-CORe – Credential of Readiness

CORe is designed for students not necessarily majoring in business. Qualified students might be majoring in psychology or economics or be a law school student preparing for his first job in a law firm. It does not require a strong background or even much familiarity with business concepts. HBX-CORe represents what HBS believes are the core elements any professional needs to have in order to be successful in any business environment, no matter the size or mission of the organization. The package has three components: Financial Accounting, Business Analytics and Economics for Managers. HBX-CORe is a complete package, designed by Harvard Business School faculty, which means that it was written from the highest level of experience and understanding of the real business world, drawing on decades of experience in the field of education. Class size will be kept small initially, between 500-1,000 students and limited to Massachusetts college students. The course takes place over nine weeks, and students are required to spend between seven to 10 hours per week in the virtual classroom. At the conclusion, those students with exemplary online attendance will be invited to take the final exam, after which they will receive a Certificate of Readiness.

About online education - Daphne Koller

Specialized HBX-Courses

To be launched later this summer, Specialized Courses will have three components: Disruptive Strategy, Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Microeconomics of Competitiveness.

Disruptive Strategy was designed by the world’s foremost expert on the subjects of innovation, growth, and disruption. The course will prepare students to deal with the dynamics and fallout of disruptive events: how to avoid them and or create new arenas for growth, how to identify and prepare for emerging threats, adapt, and develop strategies for achieving long-term growth. The course incorporates the HBS case-study model (see example here) with team assignments and debates. Students will be able to take the frameworks taught and apply them to the challenges in their own organizations. Students learn at their own pace, over four weeks, and must invest four to five hours per week.

Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship recognizes that the major corporations in the business world today were begun by entrepreneurs. Harvard undergraduate and graduate students, as well as doctoral students, will have access to supplementary digitized curriculum to understand venture capital tools and strategies for raising seed capital.

Microeconomics of Competitiveness - this course is designed to give students the ability to discern the environmental elements that allow a business to succeed in one location but fail in another. Students will approach the subject from a micro-economic perspective, identifying the factors that determine the success of an initiative.

Team learning online

Image courtesy ofjscreationzs /
Image courtesy ofjscreationzs /


HBX-Live is a unique global, virtual learning environment to be launched this summer. HBX-Live will bring students from around the world together with Harvard’s leading professors to tackle the tough work of the case study approach in a unique digital and global classroom. In partnership with WGBH public broadcasting company and utilizing its studio, 60 participants at a time, by invitation only, will share in a typical, live classroom experience. Unlike a video course, the teacher will be in the studio, and will be filmed in front of 60 cameras placed in a semi-circle, each one representing an online student. An interactive webpage will be utilized that will allow participants to see and interact with each other. HBX-Live will be the best recreation of an actual in-the-classroom learning experience yet to hit the world. In the future, planners hope to bring in speakers from around the globe, similar to having visiting professors and business leaders come to the classroom.

As a former HBS student (See Angela Chao’s profile), I am very excited by HBX. It will solidify HBS’s reputation as a leader in the academic community, and further the school’s mission of “educating leaders who make a difference in the world.”


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