The best free online business courses starting in August

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This post from LinkedIn Influencer John A. Byrne originally appeared on LinkedIn.

It’s surreal to look back on business 20 years ago. Back then, employees railed against their short-sighted overlords, who lived and died by their quarterly numbers.

Business cycles were measured in years. And few could wrap their arms around this “internet” thing.

Fast forward to today. Armed with more information and options, customers control the process. Their expectations are higher than ever, with faster, cheaper, simpler, and smaller being the new mantra.

Bootstrappers can usurp behemoths and new models can disrupt entire industries and supply chains.

In an atmosphere where speed trumps all else, many professionals can’t spend months filling gaps or gaining surface knowledge. And that’s the beauty of MOOCs. They run on your schedule at your pace, and starting one in August when things are slow at work and you might be on vacation could be an ideal way to ease yourself into new learning.

At the same time, they’re taught by many of the same educators who are training the graduate school elite. In August – a month when many take time for a vacation — you’ll find everything from corporate investment strategy basics to futurist tomes on knowledge management and big data.

As Poets&Quants’ staff writer Jeff Schmitt points out, finance is among the biggest draws in August. On the 10th, the University of Illinois unveils “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments.” Taught by one of the school’s most acclaimed teachers and researchers, this course covers the models, vocabulary, and tools needed for students to speak knowledgably with CFOs and other senior financial types.

For students looking to understand the financial workings of the world economy, the International Monetary Fund is offering “Financial Programming and Policies: Macroeconomic Accounts & Analysis.”

For entrepreneurs, the University of Maryland is holding “New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs,” which will be taught by Michael Pratt, a former CEO and serial entrepreneur.

Several schools are also holding additional sections of their most popular courses. On August 3rd, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is running “Introduction to Operations Management” and “Introduction to Marketing,” both of which are abbreviated first-year foundational courses for their MBA students.

Two weeks later, Wharton will add “More Introduction to Financial Accounting,” which builds off its initial intro course to provide the type of in-depth content and exercises that its MBAs get in the classroom.

Looking to get a jump on where business is heading? Check out Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s “Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business” course. Here, you’ll get a taste on how data is being gathered, parsed, and connected to not only identify emerging relationships and trends, but also to organically create new knowledge.

If you’re looking to tackle large social issues, NovoEd is launching what promises to be a true standout MOOC: “Lean Principles For Social Impact” on August 13th. The class, developed to help professionals apply bootstrapping techniques to development social enterprises, will be co-taught by a powerhouse duo, Sasha Dichter and Bob Dorf. Dichter is the Chief Innovation Officer at Acumen and author of the “Manifesto for Nonprofit CEOs.” Dorf, who teaches at Columbia Business School, has worked closely with lean startup entrepreneurial guru Steve Blank in writing the best-selling “The Startup Owner’s Manual.”

To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.

Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Investments / August 10 / University of Illinois

Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business / August 25 / Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Digital Marketing Channels: The Landscape / August / University of Illinois

Introduction to Operations Management / August 3 / Wharton School

An Introduction to Marketing / August 3 / Wharton School

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management / August 17 / University of Virginia (Darden)

Lean Principles For Social Impact / August 13 / Acumen

International Organizations Management / August 10 / University of Geneva

Financial Programming and Policies, Part 1: Macroeconomic Accounts & Analysis / August 5 / International Monetary Fund

New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs / August 3 / University of Maryland

More Introduction to Financial Accounting / August 14 / Wharton School

Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace / August 3 / University of Maryland

Make An Impact: Sustainability for Professionals / August 17 / University of Bath

Additional Courses

More from John A. Byrne:

SEE ALSO: 6 career moves that are worth more than an MBA

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