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Thousands of individuals worldwide engage in CU Denver’s first free online energy course

June 10, 2014

Global Energy Management Program offers Fundamentals of Global Energy Business course

MOOCThousands of students from around the world recently took part in the Global Energy Management Program’s first massive, open, online course (MOOC) through Coursera.

“There were many aspects of the course that I enjoyed,” said GEM lecturer Dr. Michael Orlando, who taught the Fundamentals of Global Energy Business course. “It was very motivating to be of service to students who might not otherwise have access to the kind of material we put together here. But, perhaps the biggest surprise was how hard many of the students worked. I was glad to see them taking full advantage of the work we put into the course. And I enjoyed coaching the students through the content on a daily basis, and watching them help one another to learn.”

Coursera is a learning platform that partners with universities to offer free online courses globally. This opportunity gives the GEM Program worldwide exposure to diverse audiences and raises the program’s visibility in the energy community & across society as a whole.

“We had nearly 33,000 registrants, some of whom registered while the course was in progress,” Orlando said, “but, because these courses are free, registration overstates engagement. We saw less than a third of registrants ever tune into the course site … But, I’ve read and have been told that these numbers are typical.”

Based on the course data, it appears that between 1,000 and 10,000 participated to varying degrees.  Ultimately, nearly 2,400 students appear to have engaged with the course material regularly. “Based on my typical teaching schedule and average class sizes, it would take me nearly 50 years to work with as many students,” Orlando added.

The Fundamentals of Global Energy Business course provides students with an introduction to the business of primary energy production. The class examines the nature of supply & demand in global energy markets and business considerations for participants in those markets.

A course survey shows that about one third of respondents were currently enrolled students, over 80 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree, and greater than two thirds were working part-time or more, with nearly 60 percent working full time.

Regionally, course registrants were roughly equally distributed between North America, Europe, and Asia, with the remaining 15 percent coming from South America, Africa, and Oceania. Registrants came from nearly 190 countries. The largest groups were from the United States (23 percent) and India (9 percent).

Orlando said the biggest difference between this course and others he has taught is that this was a survey course.  The class required a lot of research on current trends in energy. Orlando said he received “invaluable assistance” from Jim Marchiori, GEM Executive Director; Sarah Derdowski, GEM Director of Operations; and GEM alumnus Ian Jaeger.

Delivering quality online courses in energy is not new to the GEM Program. GEM currently offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Global Energy Management via “hybrid-online” curriculum delivery.  Energy professionals from around the world enroll in GEM because of its business focus on energy as well as the accessibility the classroom-online model provides to full-time professionals.

“The Business School is committed to exploring multiple ways to share our special expertise across the globe through varied modalities. This course furthers GEM’s position as a contributor and thought leader in energy education,” said Sueann Ambron, Dean of the CU Denver Business School. “Upon successful completion, some students in the open course may want to further their education on the business side of the energy industry, and that’s where GEM’s MS degree plays an important role.”

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