An Introduction to Operations Management by University of Pennsylvania: My first MOOCs

An Introduction to Operations Management

Knowing Coursera & arriving at this course

It was July, 2012 when I was just browsing twitter casually. One of the tweet caught my attention saying about ‘I am taking a free course on brain at Coursera, join me here’. It looked very strange to me to see a computer major student taking course in biology. But more important it is offered for free. This curiosity led me to the discovery of Coursera and 21st century education revolution which we all now know as MOOC. I could not believe at first, how top universities can offer courses for free? Course titles looks very good and I took one of the courses offered by University of Pennsylvania just to test this new platform.

Course journey

‘Introduction to Operations Management’ was my first MOOC, taken in September 2012. Although, I have been using OpenCourseWare from past several years, I was slightly skeptical about MOOC itself at that moment. I have signed up for the course in late July, 2012 little to know that one day I will be a big fan of this concept.
Prof. Christian worked hard to make video lectures easy to understand. They were self-sufficient in conveying the study aspects and generated curiosity to study further. But I call ‘discussion forum’ as a key element in sticking to this course and finishing till the end. Though it was mostly typing and virtual discussions, studying with so many bright minded individuals around the globe was very exciting. Sometime it was sitting in a classroom, sometime it was sitting in a seminar listening to an expert and some other time it was like engaging on some real life problems. Though virtual, this new form of learning was exhilarating, enjoyable and thanks to Prof. Christian very knowledgeable too.

Assignments/Operations Management Challenge

Assignment of this course were not very easy and many times, I had to put some extra efforts to solve the problems. The discussion forum participants were very helpful in giving some hints without actually telling the formal answers thereby stimulating the environment similar to the classroom. Due to travel and health consensus, I could not participate in the Operations Management Challenge initiated at the later part of this course. I have passed this course

Interesting experiences

  • Keeping disciplines in temple lines in India:
  • > This was my operations management challenge idea, which I could not submit due to health concerns. I have traveled to a religious place during the duration of this course for attending a family function. Spirituality is the most important aspect of any average Indian’s daily life and temple tend to be crowded during religious occasion . The temple, I have visited was very prominent one with no system of line management in place. I thought of using operations management principle here, by assuming people as product and their line as assembly lines. The observation gave some interesting results, which I will share in the upcoming weeks on my website.

  • Retailer shop:
  • This course has started with the example of Subway and their analyzing their daily operations. I could not lose the sight of those calculations done by Prof. Christian in first few lectures. I have analyzed the layout of nearby retailer shop and gave some suggestions to the manager in-charge. My objective was to reduce the crowd during the peak hours. Unfortunately, they did not listen to me but this was a good exercise.

  • Crazy part:
  • I have checked majority of discussions after the course completion of this course. The discussion forums were open even after 6 months of course completion. Not just reading discussion posts, I approached approximately 2000 course participants using their listed contact details (Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Blog/E-mail) and thanked them for their wonderful opinions.

    Further takeaway & thanks!
    At the time of finishing this course, there was no denial that I became a huge fan of 21st century education revolution which we all know as MOOC. There was something else; I like to give a big thanks to Prof. Christian. This course made me so confident about MOOCs, that I have pursued my entire ‘Zero Cost MBA(Global Manager for 21st Century)’ project using the MOOCs and freely available material online. If it was not this course than my 2 year long project would never have been succeed.


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