Campus & Community

Internet class is HBS’s business

2 min read

When the CEO of Click ’n Pick needs someone to clarify the company’s murky financial picture, who does he come to?

Harvard Business School students – well, actually future Harvard Business School students.

Click ’n Pick is a fictional company whose finances set the stage for one of three scenarios to be navigated by incoming Harvard Business School students. The scenarios are part of an innovative online course designed to level the playing field among students and to help faculty evaluate strengths and weaknesses before students arrive on campus.

Harvard Business School Publishing has produced two of the “prematriculation modules,” which are essentially online courses. Finance and Financial Accounting come with photos and audio of Harvard Business School instructors explaining the finer points of each subject.

The courses are designed to be as interactive as possible, complete with tutorials on different subjects, remedial instruction, and evaluative tools that might suggest a student bone up on a particular topic – and then provide the needed refresher material.

“Students can go through this at the speed befitting their level. If people are beginners, they can go through the whole thing,” said Michelle Barton, of Harvard Business School Publishing.

With Click ’n Pick, for example, the students are asked to find numbers from the company’s financial statements that show the company’s cash flow and its net income – to be shared with the company’s fictional stockholders who are skeptical about Click ’n Pick’s performance.

While the scenarios keep the students engaged, the learning continues, alerting students when they enter a wrong answer. Developers of the modules wrote explanations about common mistakes in order to steer students into the right direction.

“For every question and every activity, we identified the most logical mistake and wrote specific tutoring. For generic mistakes [such as math mistakes], we wrote generic kinds of responses,” said Tristyn Patrick, of Harvard Business School Publishing.