What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX

Bharat Anand, Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, Harvard Business Review, Apr 17, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I think I have to file this under the category of "catching up" as the 'lessons' learned by Harvard Business School have long been known and studied in the wider online learning and distance education communities. Indeed, some of the recommendations they make - like having people begin by introducing each other in an online discussion, or that "norms of online collaboration can be shaped" - had become clichés long before HBS 'discovered' them. More recent work has been focused on how to adapt these long-known techniques to massive and open online courses (because, as we all know, a thread consisting of 160,000 introductions is unmanageable). And some of the 'discoveries' appear to be genuine but have been disproven by deeper investigation. Extrinsic motivation, such as paying people, or tying collaboration to grades, may appear to work in the short term, but fails in the longer term.

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