A little over ten years ago I created a spreadsheet based modeling class at Oakland University. I teach it in a computer lab, it's super hands-on, and quite a bit of fun. Last year I was convinced to offer an online version of the course. While I was more than a little worried about how I'd pull that off, I decided to give it a try. In place of the myriad of interactive, hands-on, activities we do in the lab, I created over 100 video clips with supporting Excel files so that students could do those same things (albeit without the real time interaction) on their own. For a first attempt, it went just fine. What made it more interesting was that I was teaching a section of the lab based version at the same time. Much to my surprise, the performance of the classes was essentially identical. Another nice outcome was that there was a strong positive correlation between the number of video clips accessed and performance in the class for the online students. Since I had this opportunity for a natural experiment, I'm writing up these results for a teaching paper. As part of that effort and just because I've always wanted to find a way to better share the huge amount of material (videos, Excel files, VBA code) I've created for this course, I've created a publicly accessible version of the course web site. It's a Moodle site that is structured just like the real class site and contains pretty much all of the same content. It is NAMOOC (NOT a massively open online course) - it's simply a way of sharing content and course structure ideas. You can access the course by clicking on Courses in this site's main menu bar. Here's a description of the course from my OU teaching page:
Spreadsheets are one of the most widely used tools in the business world. They have evolved into a functionally rich platform for quantitative business modeling and decision support system development. This course will allow you to become a power user and developer of spreadsheet based decision support tools for commonly faced managerial decision making problems. You will learn how to conduct "what if?" type analyses, use advanced spreadsheet features such as pivot tables, statistical and financial analysis functions, internal database features, querying external data sources, graphical data display, scenario analysis, risk analysis, simulation, goal seeking and solving optimization problems. You will also learn how to create spreadsheet based decision support tools by using application development features such as Visual Basic for Excel and integrating Excel with other Microsoft Office products such as MS Access. This course will integrate the use of spreadsheets with applied management science topics such as Monte-Carlo simulation and optimization models.