Friday, 16 June 2017

Harvard Banter: HBX Core Week 1

I'm currently enrolled in the HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) program run online by Harvard Business School to teach Business Analytics, Financial Accounting, and Economics for Managers thanks to the Naughton Foundation who also fund my college education, and I've just finished Week 1 (Analytics module 1, Accounting module 1 including two tests, and one assignment), so here's what I've learned so far. 

Business Analytics Module 1

This was mostly just basic stats, so I didn't learn much here. I did learn that Excel can do conditional calculations though, which was cool (like if you have a list of all the countries, their populations and their continents, it can find the average (say) of the countries in Asia). It can also do summary statistics. The module was really into histograms, so it was nice when we got to scatter plots, which I love, and were talking about correlations. I got 90% on the module test, which will do. 

Accounting

Accounting was completely new to me, so I had a lot to learn. The course started with the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Owners' Equity), which took me ages to get the hang of but I'm getting there. Another new concept was accrual accounting -- apparently only the smallest companies use accounting based on when money is exchanged, most use accrual accounting which is based on when the money is earned e.g. when the good is delivered. So if you run a gym and a customer buys a year's membership you only count the assets (money received) when you deliver the service, i.e. as each month passes you count 1/12th of it as earned. 

I liked the part on the principles of accounting, which include:

  • conservatism (account for future losses, not future gains)
  • money measurement (only account for things that can be measured in money, so a good relationship with the media doesn't go on your balance sheet)
  • historical cost (use the actual cost you paid for something even if its value has changed)
  • consistency (don't change your accounting methods without good reason)
  • the entity concept (your business is separate from you; your parking tickets don't go on the balance sheet of the business even if you're the owner)
  • going concern (the business will keep existing probably)
There are probably other ones I've forgotten but there you go. 

I got 85% on the accounting module test which I was pleasantly surprised by given how new it was and how badly I thought the test was going.

Economics for Managers

This module isn't due for another week but I've done about half of it. I've learned about willingness to pay, demand curves (steep and shallow) and started elasticity. Quite counter-intuitive some of the time, but I should be used to that with Physics. 

Overall

In general, it seems like a good course. I was nervous at first because the platform is very complicated, but now that I've done the first three assignments I'm feeling good about it. The interface in the lessons is slow but very slick, with short videos and many many questions and knowledge checks and reflections to write. I really like that I have to do so many quizzes and interact with it because it makes me learn everything and feels like I'm getting value out of it. 

So that's Week 1 down. Cool. 

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