(2018-04-22) The Future Of College Looks Like The Future Of Retail

The Future of College Looks Like the Future of Retail. Some online programs are gradually incorporating elements of the old-school, brick-and-mortar model—just as online retailers such as Bonobos and Warby Parker use relatively small physical outlets to spark sales on their websites and increase customer loyalty.

A recent move by the online-degree provider 2U exemplifies this hybrid strategy. The company partnered with WeWork, the co-working firm, to let 2U students enrolled in its programs at universities, such as Georgetown and USC, to use space at any WeWork location to take tests or meet with study groups.

Richard DeMillo, the executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, thinks that some traditional campuses will gradually move toward a similar middle ground.

Of course, blending learning experiences in this way is not always a smooth, or even feasible, process for many traditional colleges.

In 2014, the d.school, as the Stanford institute is known, sponsored a project in which undergraduates were tasked with rethinking what a college education will look like in 2025. One of the results was a design for a lifelong, on-and-off education experience. It was called the “open loop university” and would admit students for six years of study that could be undertaken at any time. (Lifelong Learning)

Several universities, including MIT, Penn, and Boston University, recently started a type of online degree called a “MicroMasters” as a way for students to begin work on a graduate degree without committing to a years-long program. (Micro-Degree)

For now, though, most short-term or blended-learning programs exist not at universities but in the professional world, with companies running ongoing programs to train their current workers. And, here too, the division between online and face-to-face learning is thinning.

Employer-financed programs account for about half of the business of General Assembly.


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