eCornell WebSeries: Making Entrepreneurship Accessible

eCornell WebSeries gives the Cornell community the opportunity to gain valuable entrepreneurial insights.  Through tailored topics, interactive discussion, and professional expertise, the WebSeries facilitates learning in a way that is convenient and easy to manage in alongside classwork.  E@D sat down with WebSeries host and interviewer Chris Wofford to learn more.

What is the WebSeries?

eCornell’s WebSeries is a subscription-based online product that allows subscribers to attend live and interactive discussions led by Cornell faculty and alumni. With each WebCast, participants from around the world can interact directly with our faculty presenters, which is a pretty exciting proposition for a lot of people.

As host and interviewer, I try to keep things fluid and conversational with my faculty guest, which often leads to more engaging, in-depth discussion. Every live event is recorded, so subscribers can access all past events anytime, from anywhere. Attendees can also earn CEUs (continuing education units) by taking a short post-event assessment after live and recorded sessions.

We work with several units at Cornell University (Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, ILR, et al) and offer programs in the following channels: Entrepreneurship, Women in Leadership, Human Resources, Hospitality, and several more. The WebSeries is growing pretty quickly at the moment as we’re building out new channels and reaching fresh audiences every day.

Why was WebSeries founded?  

eCornell’s core product portfolio features 40+ online certificate programs and online professional development for organizations. These have been our bread and butter since our founding in 2000, and we were looking to satisfy the increasing demand among online learners for live, modular, and on-demand programming.

I had been producing and hosting webinars for potential students for several years, and I felt we could up the production and extend more value to our audience with these WebCasts. Sally Berkowitz, a product manager at eCornell, found that many professionals wanted to stay engaged with Cornell’s thought leaders and build their knowledge and skills but didn’t have the time for a full course or certificate program.

Our CEO Paul Krause agreed and we got to work and went live in the spring of ‘16. It’s been very exciting so far and we’re really hitting our stride as we near our second year of offering the WebSeries globally.  

Who determines which speakers are featured?

Chris Wofford: host and interviewer of WebSeries

We’ve been working closely with faculty on course production and certificate programs for over 15 years now, so our campus connections and alliances with the schools run quite deep. There is a ton of interest in this mode of learning at Cornell so I do get a good deal of unsolicited inquiries from campus units and faculty. That being said, I’m always pushing to find new collaborators and presenters to work with, no matter the school or unit. As much as one can, I’ve pretty much perfected the pitch meeting by now and have made some great connections by reaching out directly. So if any faculty readers have an idea for an online event or are interested in collaborating, feel free to email me anytime and we can set up a short 15-minute chat.

What is the role of the interactive user?

For me, the audience experience is everything. Typically, we enjoy large global audiences and they tend to be pretty diverse in experience. So you can imagine how active the live chats and interactions among participants can be once we get rolling—it’s really something to see.

I always make a point to get to know our audience right as a session begins, so we run a few quick poll questions to see who’s out there. I also like to get a sense of the experience they bring to the discussion and how well they know the topic we’re about to into. Because the Cornell faculty I work with are used to live audiences and real-time feedback, the live chats and polling functions tell us everything we need to know to keep our discussion focused and tuned to the desired learning outcomes of our attendees.

Every live and recorded session comes with a set of supplemental downloadable resources that can be accessed by the audience within the online platform (Adobe Connect). This is nothing new in the webcasting world, but we happen to deliver high-quality assets to our audiences. It’s our job to provide the audience with actionable takeaways—I want attendees to learn something in an hour and immediately be able to turn around and put what they’ve learned into practice at work.

As an attendee, you might be given, for example, a marketing strategy template document, a business model canvas to build an entrepreneurial venture from, an instructional video, a faculty-authored research paper, a self-assessment tool—again, anything that may support the specific learning objectives of our subscribers.

How can students get further involved?

I hope everyone at Dyson’s gives the WebSeries a shot! We’re excited to offer you a three-month full-access pass to the Entrepreneurship WebSeries Channel.

Click here and sign up using this promo code ENTREDYS17. We hope to see you at the next entrepreneurship WebCast!