January 05, 2001, 11:36 AM — In a move likely to boost the prestige of online learning for business executives and heighten competition in a crowded market, Harvard Business School and Stanford University say they will jointly provide non-degree courses online.
E-learning, the term used to describe online courses and training for professionals, is a crowded field. Other prominent universities, including New York University and Columbia University, already offer similar programs, and countless commercial enterprises also deliver business courses online.
But the decision by Harvard and Stanford -- two of the most prestigious names in higher education -- to jointly develop and deliver online courses changes the online learning landscape. The two institutions say they expect their program to become the world's premier source of online management education.
"Stanford and Harvard Business School share a common mission: to educate leaders around the world," says Kim Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School. "Over the last several months, as we have explored the advantages of working together, we have become enthusiastic about the opportunity to deliver online an unparalleled management-education portfolio to executives and leaders around the world."
Universities and commercial enterprises have been flocking to the World Wide Web with courses in a variety of fields because of the potential for profits it offers. Online distance learning is expected to generate $1.1 billion in annual tuition revenue from 500,000 students by 2002, according to a Goldman Sachs report.
Under their e-learning partnership, Harvard Business School and Stanford's Graduate School of Business will both provide articles, course materials and other content. These include materials that have already been developed for online delivery, as well as talks and case discussions with business leaders. The Stanford School of Engineering -- a pioneer in distance learning, in that it already grants almost 25 percent of its master's degrees to distance-learning students -- also will participate.