The Socratic value of MOOCs

IE Focus | By Rolf Strom-Olsen. Academic Director of Humanities Studies at IE Humanities Center

The rise of MOOCs and the fact that they are open to all and free of charge has caused great consternation in the academic world. Socrates, however, would have approved.

In the brief introductory video of my MOOC (Critical Perspectives on Management) that we put together to walk through the class syllabus, I make the point that, as a Humanities course masquerading as a strategy class, the methodological inspiration derives from those two fundamental tenets of the Socratic imperative: that true wisdom consists in knowing you do not know and that the unexamined life is not worth living.

But while these two sentiments of the Socratic imperative are certainly the best known and serve as the fons et origo of humanist enquiry, there is a third, equally critical, part of the Socratic imperative that I had to leave out (since the video was testing weary viewers’ patience already).

It’s this bit, from the Apology.

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Facebook – more questions than answers

IE Focus | By Dr. Ricardo Perez, Professor at IE Business School

Facebook’s decision to float the company on the stock market has revealed the true figures of this internet giant, and has left quite a few questions unanswered, particularly where advertising is concerned.At last we have some real information rather than just rumors about Facebook’s business figures. Allow me to put things into context with some of the key data. In 2011, $3,200 million in revenues and $1,000 profit. Many analysts expected to see figures over 4,000 million and say they are surprised. Some say that facebook’s revenues have not grown as fast as they should (over 80%), while others complain that net margins are also going down (still at 25%). However all have a positive opinion about the almost 4,000 million that the company has to invest in order to keep growing.

But after examining all these figures there are more questions than answers about Facebook’s future. Let’s take a look at these questions and the challenges they pose for the firm.

How scalable is the advertising business as it stands today? Growth in the advertising sector has decelerated. Adverts that appear on the right-hand side of the screen (I have just counted seven on my personal page) are not relevant in the majority of cases. Hence they are of little value from the point of view of the advertiser. In spite of the fact that they changed their policy at the end of last year, attempting to raise prices and quality, they did not get the desired results. The challenge lies in finding a better formula for using the information available to customers and convert it into a more focused form of advertising.

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IE Focus || Social web and involvement

By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School, published on IE Focus

One of the key factors driving the boom in so-called social media is customer involvement, now the subject of extensive study.One of the main drivers of the boom of the so-called social media is so-called customer involvement. This represents a measure of how far the customer gets involved with the sender of the message, and is now the subject of extensive study.

Have you ever considered the general effect your messaging has on your target public? In a world full of media that is technologically limited to being unidirectional, the answer to this question was very inexact: we could only find out by using panels or surveys, which were always approximate, and we were unable to associate the answer with specific subjects or try to measure it in purely binary terms: one, buys the product or service, or zero, doesn´t buy it. This absence of information means that communication via the net can be measured or evaluated in a large number of ways that businesses are starting to discover. 

On the social web, users´ reactions are gauged by that fundamental variable: involvement. The minimum involvement of a user in terms of content is to simply “watch it go by”; the content appears and the user simply moves on to something else without interacting with it. Display advertising, for example, is a clear case of this: we can´t even be sure of whether or not the user has actually seen it or stopped to look at it. In fact, display advertising is a luxury in comparison with other media: we can at least know whether or not a specific user has received the impact and then act accordingly. In the press, we can only know the number of newspapers that have been sold and, on television, we have to trust a frugal scattering of audience meters that provide measurements that are poor and few and far between, but which everyone decides to believe since there is nothing better.

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