MIT Sloan expands reach of Big Data program with a new online format

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 1, 2013—While companies on the leading-edge of using Big Data are more productive and profitable than their competitors, many firms are not yet familiar with this new form of R&D. To help more managers understand this area and learn best practices, MIT Sloan School of Management is expanding its popular Big Data executive education program, offering an on-campus and virtual “4Dx” classroom format April 2-3, 2013. Both versions will run simultaneously and feature the same faculty, content, discussions and exercises.

“Part of our mission is to advance the field of executive education and to expand the reach of our programs. This is a cutting-edge way to deliver interactive, dynamic programs to more participants around the world, and opens the door to even more formats for our programming,” says Executive Director Peter Hirst of MIT Sloan Executive Education. “The traditional model will remain, but this type of virtual component is the direction of the future.”

Prof. Erik Brynjolfsson, who is director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business and is teaching in the upcoming “Big Data 4Dx” program, adds, “The new format is exciting and offers participants in both settings a remarkable experience. Digital technology has revolutionized media, music, manufacturing and finance. Now, it’s beginning to revolutionize education as well.”

The Big Data 4Dx program will be conducted using AvayaLive™ Engage a web-based, immersive collaboration environment. Students participating in the online format will interact in a virtual room with faculty and other students via personalized avatars. They’ll be able to talk and move around, gaining a sense that they are present in the classroom. Spatial and positional audio capabilities contribute to this experience, as listeners become directionally attuned to the location of voices and sounds. When they move around the virtual room, the voices of other participants will become louder or softer depending on their proximity, allowing for break-out group discussions within the room.

Online participants will be able to view the activities in the on-campus classroom, and the virtual room will be projected into the MIT classroom so that all participants and faculty can interact. The new format has proven to be popular, as both the on-campus and online formats are nearly sold out.

Based on research from MIT’s Media Lab and the MIT Center for Digital Business, the Big Data 4Dx program will prepare participants to collect different forms of information from inside and outside of an organization, to develop new knowledge from that information, and to use this information in a collaborative way to improve productivity and strategic decision-making in real time.

Participants, who range from CTOs to CMOs to senior managers to entrepreneurs, will address topics, such as how key technologies and applications are driving the Big Data revolution, how data can be used to improve forecasts, how to design and run controlled experiments with Big Data, and how to recognize opportunities within industries and functions.

“In this era of Big Data, we measure our world in ways we never could before. Digital data is revolutionizing marketing and management, and it’s important to understand not just how to use it for business advantage, but also to be sensitive about the privacy, security and ethical implications of using Big Data,” says Brynjolfsson. “In this program, we’ll discuss frameworks for thinking about that and the kinds of steps companies can take to be on the right side of the law as well as best practices.”

Hirst adds, “On the delivery side, we’ll be analyzing a lot of data during and after the program to continuously improve the customer and faculty experience. We’re looking forward to more experiments with hybrid programs where some parts are offered in the traditional classroom, others are entirely online, and still others are in a virtual world. There are a lot of possibilities and we’re excited to be pioneering these new approaches at MIT Sloan.”

The Big Data 4Dx program will be co-taught by Prof. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business, and Prof. Alex “Sandy” Pentland, director of the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program. For more information about the Big Data 4Dx program, please visit: http://executive.mit.edu/data4dx

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