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World Economic Forum steps into online learning

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The World Economic Forum is to step into online learning with the launch Wednesday of the Forum Academy, a platform that will offer courses the WEF hopes will help professionals and businesses develop their 'strategic knowledge in a fast-changing world'.

Forum Academy is launched in conjunction with edX, a non-profit provider of so-called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Founded by educational heavyweights Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX offers students around the world degree level courses via the web for free. To date, over 1 million students have signed up to edX courses.

(Read more: Is this the classroom of the future?)

"The reshaping of our world requires professionals to develop a transformational mindset and constantly update their knowledge," Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said Wednesday morning.

"This knowledge is becoming increasingly difficult to attain through traditional means, precisely due to the growing complexity, velocity and uncertainty in the world. Forum Academy will contribute to the mission of the Forum by providing a global audience with strategic insights on global, industry and regional developments," Schwab added.

(Read more: The rich and famous visit Davos)

The WEF's collaboration with edX sees it tapping into a rapidly expanding platform, with the popularity of MOOCs gaining huge momentum. Another leading provider is Coursera. Founded by academics at Stanford, Coursera offers students around the world free online courses taught by academics at leading global institutions such as Yale, l'Ecole Centrale de Paris and The University of Edinburgh.

To date, Coursera has seen more than 21 million enrollments from students representing 190 countries. Subjects offered range from the history of architecture to philosophy and human physiology.

(Read more: Is this what your kid's classroom will look like?)

Forum Academy's first course, 'Global Technology Leadership', will begin in April 2014 and will focus on emerging technologies that will reshape 'the social, political and economic context'. The course has been designed with both current and future global leaders in mind.

"Like the World Economic Forum, edX is committed to improving the lives of people around the globe," Anant Agarwal, President of edX, said Wednesday.

"We are happy to provide the Forum Academy with the cutting-edge educational tools needed to create courses that will enable leaders – of today and tomorrow – to transform their communities, countries and regions," he added.

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