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15,000+ Register for Free Online Course at UVA’s Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has partnered with Stanford spin-out tech firm Coursera to offer the school’s first “massive open online course,” or MOOC, which is free to anyone in any part of the globe with a computer and an Internet connection, the school announced last week.

The course, entitled “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses,” will be taught by Darden entrepreneurship professor Ed Hess beginning in January 2013. According to a release from the school, as of last week more than 15,700 people had registered for the course since it was announced in July.

Darden Dean Bob Bruner called the new offering a “learning launch” designed to help the school “raise our game even higher” in its various MBA and executive education programs. “The course can advance our mission of developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs,” Bruner added in a statement.

The “Grow to Greatness” course is based on research funded by Darden’s Batten Institute that revealed that almost all net U.S. job creation in recent years came not from startups but from older existing private businesses. Hess, who is also Batten’s executive-in-residence, led the research and has published a textbook and leading practitioner book on growing existing private businesses.

“My research shows that every private business faces a set of common management challenges created by growth,” Hess said in a statement. “Private business owners and students can learn from successful business builders through this course – they do not have to reinvent the wheel.”

Offering the course via Coursera is integral to Darden’s mission of educating not only students but also practitioners, Hess continued. “We will reach thousands of students and small business owners all over the world who otherwise would not have the opportunity to come to Darden and learn,” he said. “If we can help some of them be more successful as they face the common growth management problems, we can not only help people achieve their dreams but also help create jobs and have a positive impact in their societies.”

The course lasts five weeks and participants will be expected to study for four to six hours a week.

Learn more about Darden’s first MOOC, “Grow to Greatness.” 

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