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Education is changing, but what will change the corporations?

June 12, 2011 - Education

Yesterday, an infographic was posted on Mashable about the rising popularity of online education.  It shares statistics such as how the University of Phoenix is the largest university in the United States, enrolling more than 500,000 students.  And how the London School of Business and Finance launched the Global MBA last year, delivered entirely through a Facebook app.  Some of the raw data shared is suspiciously untrue (such as Salman Khan’s 2004 YouTube videos — when YouTube didn’t exist until 2005), but the overarching fact remains: The internet has revolutionized the way we learn, and has put access to education in the hands of more people than ever before.

But how does this translate to the job market, particularly when applying to large corporations?

career fairRecruiting practices at most large corporations continue to focus on the big brick and mortar schools.  Career fairs and face-to-face handshakes and hand-off of paper resumes are still the primary way to be noticed and considered for employment right out of undergrad — not online applications.  When faced with a candidate with a brick-and-mortar education, and one with an online education, all other things being equal, brick-and-mortar will get the interview.

While online education is exploding, what will it take for corporations to assign as much value to an online education as they do to a traditional education?  Would more video conferencing convince them, allowing real-time, verbal interactions and public speaking practice with professors and fellow students?  Or perhaps more group projects, so that leadership can be exercised?  Or maybe it will require specific internship credits, to ensure the students are getting hands on experience.

Whatever the hesitation may stem from, online education programs do need to — and undoubtedly will continue to — mature, and only time will be able to show us that skilled, professional graduates can be hired by Fortune 500 companies from both kinds of programs.

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