MOOCs for Arts Managers

Since their introduction in 2008, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have popped up on myriad online platforms and offered through hundreds of institutions. Some arts organizations, like the Museum of Modern Art and the American Museum of Natural History, have started to supplement their educational programming with MOOCs. While this has yet to become a widespread practice, it could prove beneficial to many arts organizations.

If your organization is interested in exploring the integration of MOOCs and educational programming, one of the easiest ways to understand the concept is by experiencing a MOOC yourself. Consider using MOOCs as an opportunity for professional development for you or your staff, perhaps to develop certain skills or to gain additional training. MOOCs cover a variety of subjects, are open to the public, and most of them are free of charge. In addition, MOOCs can have as many students as desired, presenting an ideal opportunity to invite coworkers to enroll with you for a unique team building experience.

Intrigued? Below is a short list of MOOCs recommended for arts managers. Some relate primarily to management, others to technology, and some to the arts specifically.


The majority of MOOCs hosted by arts organizations fall within education. Enrolling in one might provide insight as to how other organizations in the field are utilizing the MOOC. Depending on your organization, these courses may be useful for an education staff member looking to have richer interactions with students, teachers, and schools:

Museum of Modern Art: Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom
Description: “Explore how to integrate works of art into your classroom with inquiry-based teaching methods originally developed for in-gallery museum education.”
Duration: 4 weeks

Museum of Modern Art: Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art
Description: Builds on skills learned in Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom
Duration: 4 weeks


A great many courses on business and management are available as MOOCs, any of which could prove useful for managers looking to breathe new life into their practices or explore a new perspective. You can see all the classes Coursera has to offer in this subject here, but here are some highlights (as well as some other courses from around the MOOC web):

Northwestern University: Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences for Your Organization
Description: “This professional Content Strategy MOOC is for people anywhere in an organization who have content development experience and now want to significantly improve their abilities to understand audiences and develop strategic words, pictures, graphics, and videos to convey their organization’s most important goals.”
Duration: 6 weeks

École Centrale Paris: On Strategy: What Managers Can Learn from Great Philosophers
Description: “In the expression ’creative thinking,’ the keyword is not creativity; the keyword is thinking. With the help of great philosophers, you will rediscover the art of thinking.”
Duration: 6 weeks                        

Vanderbilt University: Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations
Description: “Improve your ability to manage creativity and to lead an innovation strategy in businesses, schools, hospitals, governments, and other complex organizations and institutions, by diagnosing likely innovation failures before they occur.”
Duration: 8 weeks

Udacity: How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad
Description: “Learn the key tools and steps to build a successful startup (or at least reduce the risk of failure).”
Duration: 4 weeks


For those arts managers interested in web development, Udacity provides courses on a variety of topics. NOTE: Many of these courses are intermediate to advanced, and require a certain level of familiarity with the subject matter:

Udacity: How to Build a Blog
Description: Starting from the basics of how the web works, this class will walk you through everything you need to know to build your own blog application and scale it to support large numbers of users.”
Duration: 8 weeks

Udacity: Intro to SalesForce App Development
Description: “This class teaches you how to build powerful web and mobile apps and host them in the cloud, without writing a line of code. By the end of this short course, you'll use the skills you've developed to conceptualize and create your own app.”
Duration: 4 weeks

Does your organization utilize MOOCs, either internally or for its patrons? Do you think there is a MOOC that all arts managers should take? Let us know in the comments below.