Thursday, September 30, 2010

Me and the Euro Med School online course

Social Media creates opportunities
Just so you can see the benefits of social media, I will tell you my story of how I came to know about a business online course from a tweet and how this course taught me a lot.

One day, I was wasting time on twitter, and I saw this below tweet by sdarine (Identity Chef). And I thought to myself, a business course? online? and free? This is perfect for me. 

"Only four days left for Euro Medditerranean School Business Training program registration Apply, Its Free!"

I had 4 days left only to gather up all the necessary documents to apply to this course, and it was very demanding to tell you the truth. I had to get recommendation letters from current employer and previous ones, from professors, a copy of all certifications I have, of all the degrees I obtained, the whole 9 yards! But I set my mind to it and I did it and was accepted.

About Euro-Med School and the course
The course's name was "Introduction to Entrepreneurship", it was prepared and provided by Euro-Mediterranean School in collaboration with ALTIS and the chamber of commerce in Milan. It grouped students from many countries from the Middle East to North Africa and Southern Europe, and we were 11 from Lebanon.

Every week, we had 2 chapters uploaded under the form of video and PowerPoint presentations. One chapter was uploaded on Monday and the other on Thursday, some of these video presentations were testimonials from other entrepreneurs based in Italy as the school is Italian and all others were either case studies, papers, articles or lessons specifically made for us, some of the chapters we learned about were the Entrepreneurial Formula, Value Chain, Competitive System, Internationalization on Strategy and Structure, etc...

In those 8 weeks, and for the reason of having an assignment every week, all of us, the 2009 students, were able to create a business plan for a business idea of that we came up with on our own. Mine was drawn from my IT experience, I thought it would be beneficial to use the knowledge and expertise I have in this domain in coming up with a business idea that will be executed in my own country, Lebanon.

The online course was phase 1 of this project. Phase 2 is a month in Italy to continue taking business courses and mingle with the other students and meet the professors who we saw in the videos we watched during the online course. Phase 2 will be attended by the top 20 students to be selected by the board.

I did not make it to Phase 2, not sure though if it was because my business idea wasn't that innovative and promises success, or because weak spots due to my non-business background manifested themselves in several place in the business plan.

The good and the bad of studying online

What I liked about learning online is the fact that you can download these videos whenever you want and study in your own free time. You are not limited by 3 hours, twice a week for example like any other course in a university. Another thing I enjoyed was repeating any slide I want and listen to the professor repeat again, at my own time and pace.

Even though there was a facebook group for all the students to communicate and ask questions, give and take, moreover we were able to use a blackboard in which we can upload our assignments and download the presentations, and send emails to the professor to ask our questions, the following disadvantage sort of took over the mood. It was missing on the opportunity to interact live with the professor and the colleagues. One of the biggest experiences you can draw from studying a course, is your colleagues' experience and what they have gone through and what they have done to overcome it. But, I guess who made it to be accepted in phase 2 which took place in Italy learned much more by having the opportunity to spend four weeks of structured meetings, formation and networking in Milan and other Italian cities.

I wish to see the idea of people studying online become more spread and more accepted. I highly recommend taking a course in the university if your time and budget allows it, but if your time is tight, and it could be due to a full time job, or being far or being a parent, an online course is perfect for you.

I am glad I took this course even though I found it to be hard in many places and I wished I had more knowledge when it comes to business at least to facilitate the barrier of the business terminology I confronted. However, it was quite useful, inspiring, thought-provoking and exhausting, which makes it a pretty good experience.

Apply for next year
If you're interested, stay tuned on the website of the Euro Mediterranean School here. Deadline was yesterday for this year's course. I wish I had noticed before and shared this post with you, but worry not, there is always next year.


  1. How interesting. And how courageous to actually go through with it and find the time. :-)

  2. What a great idea for you to have taken this course. It sounds very interesting.

    I love the idea of studying online, but I have yet to try it to determine whether it really is for me. It sometimes sounds like your own pace could lead to more procrastination. Maybe not though. I will try it one day though, I do everything else online, why not this?

    Great post as usual Lil.

  3. Riham, if you can study offline, of course it's better, but for reasons i mentioned in the post, online is super cool.

    As for procrastination, if you know me, you know am very lazy, but the pace of this course and the fact that if we do well we get to go to Italy, was super motivation. And I was determined on learning some business stuff because I had never taken any business course in my life.

    Mich oh yeah... the TIME.. hehe it drove me crazy, but it was a challenge which I believe I overcame, so I advice people who don't have time for an MBA or money to do a course, to apply for it. Unfortunately, deadline was yesterday ;/

  4. Lilian,
    I'm a student of EMS 2010...and I find your comments only now :) My name is Rasti, from Croatia.
    I will be free and post some Q for you.
    I have understand from your post that students were able to communicate thru this was only one tool or? e-mails? linkedIn?

    Second - is there a possibilty to write a business plan with other student? you know...a small network and new business! Yesterday on conference call was an ex student from Siria and he mentioned that we should include in our business idea other contries

    Did you have develop and implemented your business plan? I hope yes :)

    Thank you fo all info
    all the best

  5. Hi Rasti,

    Concerning communication, it was through the blackboard (username & password) where we received all our assignments and papers to read and videos/lessons to watch

    Also, the students, we did a facebook group where we communicated in an informal matter.

    And of course there is always communication by email since we all were capable of retrieving other people's emails

    As for the business plan, as far as I know, it is a one man show, you can only do it on your own.

    And unfortunately, I did not implement or execute my business plan... maybe one day :)

    Good luck, hope you make it to phase #2

  6. Hi Lili,

    thank you and I will inform you :)

  7. Hi Lili,

    just to inform you that I didn't make it to phase 2....but it was great. I have a business plan that i planned to write and I continue to work based on him :)

  8. Lili,
    do you have an open profile on Linkedin? We have our EMS school profile too so we can stay in touch :)

  9. oh! unfortunately! well now you have a business plan! good luck with it :)