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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Clara Piloto, Director of Global Programs at MIT Professional Education (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 14th 2020

Sramana Mitra: Can you talk about structure? Is there anything specific in your structure that is particularly interesting?

Clara Piloto: I’ll start with in-person. We’re driven by learning-by-doing. Apart from theoretical classes, we also offer practical hands-on experience. It has to be applicable the next day in companies in your organization for it to be meaningful.

If you come here to MIT, we are able to incorporate a lot of visits to different labs as part of the learning experience and also tap into the different companies and industries that surround MIT. We try to provide a really comprehensive experience. We’re very hands-on and very collaborative.

You join a global network of professionals when you complete our courses successfully. We award you certificates of completion and continuing education units. With our online courses, our goal is to try and replicate that experience as much as possible online.

I focus on providing and having a collaborative and engaging environment. We bring in leading industry folks to help us with facilitation. We invite MIT alumnus to help us with master webinars where they talk about what they’re doing in their industry.

The technology is really important too. We want to make sure that through technology, we can engage and make it feel as personal as possible as you go through the learning. We also offer live webinars.

We also have live events globally where the students get together. We call them after-work events where they can come together, meet each other in in person during or right after the course. We’ve done several of those in the Spanish-speaking world, specifically in Peru and Madrid.

The other thing I want to mention is, accessibility is really important. We’ve started offering courses in Spanish about a year ago. That’s very successful. I especially feel that the Spanish-speaking world really needs to catch up with the fourth industrial revolution with STEM topics. We’ve been focusing a lot in that area.

We’ll be expanding very soon to Portuguese for Brazil. Down the road, possibly Chinese also. 

Sramana Mitra: Let me drill down a little bit on a few topics. Where is the maximum adoption? Is it in the Spanish-speaking world? China?

Clara Piloto: The English-speaking world is around 10 times bigger than the Spanish-speaking world. The numbers are bigger for our English courses online.

Sramana Mitra: Within the English-speaking world, where is the traction?

Clara Piloto: It’s more in US and Europe right now.

Sramana Mitra: Is that a factor of pricing?

Clara Piloto: It could be a factor of pricing, but we do have different pricing for different regions of the world. We keep that in mind. We’re market-driven. We have to be aware of what people can really afford. We are also MIT. We try to provide a really high-quality experience. We do provide some differences in pricing. We also offer special discounts and scholarships.

What I find really interesting is that the desire from the Spanish-speaking world has been fantastic. There is a huge buzz. It’s really gratifying to see the numbers that are coming through and how engaged people are. That was a bit surprising to me. It’s challenging, but we’re embraced by the Spanish-speaking world.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Clara Piloto, Director of Global Programs at MIT Professional Education
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