What Made ‘Introduction to Negotiation’ a Success?
Michael Heinrich is a graduate student at Stanford University and founder and CEO of Oh My Green!, a healthy food delivery platform for top companies.
I have tremendously enjoyed my experience as a TA for Introduction to Negotiation, taught by David W Johnson, Lecturer-in-Law at Stanford Law School. It is incredibly exciting to be at the forefront of education: to the best of my knowledge, this was the first of its kind course on negotiation – a true MOOC creating meaningful interaction and learning by and between the students themselves.
Students completed a state-of-the-art Bargaining Styles Assessment, discussed their scores with other students from around the world, and reported their views about the impact of culture on negotiation. Students also performed multiple trials of an interactive exercise on fairness, which generated thousands of scores that our tools charted on the student page, with real-time updates. The seemingly simple exercise prompted animated discussions within student teams and in the online forums. In addition, students negotiated two simulations, debriefing their results and findings within their teams. In parallel, every week the students created and submitted assignments, individual or team, then reviewed and commented upon one another’s work. All of this was supported with an elegant arc of succinct, easy-to-digest video lectures and key concept readings. On NovoEd, videos are supplemented with closed-captioning, companion text, and pace-adjustment tools. In the videos, David’s use of stories and real world analogies made the material more tangible and digestible; clearly, to my eye, the result of his career in the business and law of technology companies in Silicon Valley.
This 5-week MOOC ran on the NovoEd platform late summer, 2014. Announced with a single tweet from NovoEd, over 10,000 students signed up for this free course: 70% from outside the US. As we have learned from MOOCs, far fewer actually begin a course; here, the completion rate measured from first assignment was over 40%! Our surveys, collecting both numerical and written responses, generated student satisfaction results that were consistently ‘high-positive’ regarding the relevance of the content, its modular design (i.e., short, sequenced videos), the value of student collaboration, and this particular instructor’s knowledge, clarity, and delivery style.
Having previously served as a teaching assistant on Stanford Engineering Professor Tina Seelig’s Creativity & Innovation MOOC, also on NovoEd, my experience as a TA on this course was uniquely rewarding. I helped design the curriculum and syllabus for the course. The NovoEd platform was flexible enough for us to develop new content delivery tools that were uniquely suited to the difficult challenge of running negotiation simulations between students using confidential information for each role.
It is important to note that an instructor’s dedication to providing personal and positive feedback to as many students as possible, both in the online threads and in real-time video debriefings, is deeply appreciated by, and was shown by the surveys to be a major factor in gaining and keeping the respect and thus engagement of the students. The results indicate that this is especially important for students from outside the US. Working with David during the run-up and delivery of this course, I saw first-hand the depth of his dedication to teaching generally, but more to the point, the enormous possibilities that spring from his approach to providing individually useful education to the world. It is very rare that a professor spends that much time browsing and answering every post in the forums, or carefully selects groups of students with whom to spend hours in a Google hangout, deep into the night (which occurred multiple times). Not only was the course written, produced and directed by David, it was funded entirely on his own, including the equipment, sets, and necessary camera operators, editors, technicians (and, yes, TAs). Many students commented on and greatly appreciated his overall attention to detail. It makes all the difference.
Our future plans are to develop more negotiation courses, of increasing rigor and specialization, for executive education, eleemosynary, and other distribution. I know I speak for David as well in expressing our sincere thanks to the entire NovoEd team for their dedication and responsiveness. We look forward to the continuing innovation of tools to expand on the interactive, social experience of the students using the NovoEd platform. Here’s to redefining what’s possible in education, on to new frontiers!
To see more about Introduction to Negotiation, see the highlights page here.