Kellogg prof charts new territory online
Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management professor Gad Allon is making his Operations course available for free online. He lectures to students he can see on Friday, April 13, 2012 . | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:11AM
Gad Allon is a highly regarded professor at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his expertise is sought out by MBA candidates, aspiring executives and those who’ve already ascended to the top rungs of the corporate ladder.
This spring, more than 2,000 business-minded students around the globe are enrolled in a condensed version of Allon’s Operations Management course for free through a web-based project aimed at “disrupting and democratizing education.”
Video segments of Allon’s course are offered through The Faculty Project on the Udemy website, which is aimed at “bringing academia’s most outstanding professors to the computers, tablets and smart phones of people around the world.” Kellogg administrators decided to test it out with one professor and one course.
“It is a very different version of the course than what you get in class,” said Allon, an associate professor of managerial economics and decision science at Kellogg. In the Kellogg class, there are lively exchanges between students and the professor who challenge and test one another’s thinking.
“There is not the same level of energy and exchange,” Allon said, noting a six-minute video segment might cover a topic that consumes 25 minutes of class time, factoring in the give and take between professor and students.
As in his Kellogg course, Allon draws examples from the news and the strategies applied by companies that are household names.
He asks, for instance, whether the U.S. Postal Service should adopt the FedEx model to cut losses at a time when the post office is planning to cut 35,000 positions and close down centers in the face of multi-billion-dollar deficits by 2015.
He examines why Southwest Airlines advertises “your bags fly free” while competitors charge baggage fees, well knowing the fees annoy customers.
Allon expects that when the full Operations Management course is on the Udemy website, students enrolled in the course at Kellogg will use it as a refresher before attending the next class.
He believes the online course also will benefit prospective students investigating whether they want to purse an MBA and go back to school.
“If you watch the video, you see it is much more applicable (to the work place) and much more relevant” than what students may recall from their prior schooling, Allon said.
The course also is likely to prove popular among those who would like to enroll in an MBA program but either can’t afford it or lack the time.
“Frankly, a good number of people enrolled in the online course are not in the United States,” Allon said. “There are people from Africa, Asia, Arab countries, Lebanon and many other different countries. For them to come to business school in the U.S. is a very different story.”
Allon, a Wilmette resident, was named Kellogg’s Outstanding Professor of the Year in 2009. He holds a doctorate from Columbia University and received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Israeli Institute of Technology.
At Kellogg, Allon teaches the core Operations Management course that is a requirement for all MBA candidates and also teaches an elective on operations strategy. In addition, he teaches executive courses, including one on the “Science of Lean Six-Sigma Operations.”