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 http://wp.me/pBWKv-1A 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.