Smart executives know that the generation of compelling advantage in business is the result of innovation. It can lead to an improved competitive position, increased efficiency and a reinvigorated workforce. Innovation is central to our culture at Wharton. Investments in new technologies and initiatives are keeping the School at the leading edge in learning.

Cisco-Wharton Classroom of the Future

Wharton has partnered with Cisco to become perhaps the first higher education institution to implement Cisco’s TelePresence technology in a revolutionary new way. The technology, which has been installed on our campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco, allows professors to teach one class to students on both coasts, and it enables a greater number of students to participate in a class. Moreover, the quality of the experience is top-notch: Students and faculty on each coast will feel they are learning and interacting in the same physical space.

We thank our partner in this venture, Cisco. Special thanks to John Chambers, Cisco’s chairman and CEO; Inder Sidhu, WG’91, senior vice president of strategy and planning, Cisco’s Worldwide Operations; and the Wharton staff for bringing this exciting new technology to the School.


We also are experimenting with massive open online courses (MOOCs). The New York Times called 2012 “The Year of the MOOC.” Penn was among the four inaugural institutions that were ahead of the curve and joined Coursera early in its development, partnering with the company to offer free online classes taught by our faculty. The number of students in these classes can be significant. Associate Professor Kevin Werbach’s six-week Coursera class last fall on the topic of “gamification” had more than 81,000 registrants. (For perspective: All of Penn had 24,725 full- and part-time students in the fall 2012 semester.) While Coursera classes are not substitutes for the in-class, for-credit experience, they are a good way to get the high quality of Penn’s educational offerings out to a wide audience.

Our participation in Coursera and our partnership with Cisco show that Wharton is using technology in innovative and effective ways to advance the School’s mission.

Thomas S. Robertson
Dean and Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise