New MOOC Company Brings Market Research To The Masses

Business professors at four top universities have formed a new company offering online courses to teach do-it-yourself traders how to use the latest academic research on markets to guide their trades.

DecydEd, the latest entrant into the market for massive open online courses (MOOCs)—which are the talk of the education world—plans to expand beyond private investors to create a full undergraduate and graduate curriculum of economics and business courses that it can license to schools without their own programs.

Free to the public, the first three courses—in macroeconomics, investment analysis and derivatives—are taught by one of the co-founders, Anisha Ghosh of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and professors from the London School of Economics, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business, and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Co-founder Raj Chakrabarti, who teaches chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, says the company’s classes are not university sponsored the way courses on Coursera, edX, and other MOOC platforms are. It will educate people on how to use investing techniques based on the latest academic research (their own and that of others) on subjects as diverse as portfolio diversification, asset pricing models, and fiscal and monetary policy. Participants will be able to practice the techniques, using trading simulations, and ultimately put them to work in their own portfolios.

"We are aiming to be one of the first to bring university-level research to the people," says Chakrabarti. "There is a lot of research that has potential value because it could be applied by individuals and institutions. To date, the transfer of knowledge has been inefficient."

During the testing phase, Ghosh taught an investment analysis course. Thousands of students participated by viewing weekly lectures, slides, and the professor’s writing on the blackboard. They had weekly homework assignments for which they received grades, explains Ghosh.

The startup gets its funding from PMC Advanced Technology, the technology investment branch of the chemical manufacturing company PMC Group, which views the enterprise as a way to increase the number of financially skilled people in the workforce.

The for-profit company is in negotiations with top business schools in India to create a delivery model that works for them. On-campus students would view the same online lectures and assignments that are available for free to the general public, but they would also have to complete additional work in a traditional classroom. These students would pay for their participation. The university would license the course from the company for a fee that would be shared with the professors teaching the courses; tuition revenue that is left over would remain with the university.

Chakrabarti is first targeting community colleges in the United States for these revenue-sharing partnerships. He explained that the partnerships, by delivering courses created by professors at top schools, would help those colleges differentiate themselves from the competition.


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