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The Trend of Online Business Education

online colleges and universitiesOver the last several years, many schools have begun to implement online programs, as the number of private companies offering comprehensive, targeted courses in specific disciplines has risen.

We have seen this trend worldwide, with programs like Coursera and MIT OpenCourseware taking off in the US and Europe.

This trend represents the democratization of education, to be sure, but it also has some serious implications for traditional universities, as many find that students are replacing their traditional academic curriculum’s with more practical alternatives.

Online Business Programs

This is especially true in the business world, where MBA enrollment has plummeted in the years following the 2008 crash. Instead of spending 2 years and several hundred thousand dollars for a shiny diploma, only to have no work experience and no employable skills when they finish, students are looking to courses specific to their line of focus.

For example, many decide to do what in the US people call the “startup-MBA,” which is to say that they start a company rather than look for an academic course.

To do this, they use make money online programs. In Spain, one popular course is that provided by dineroporinternet.com, which focuses on small, but scaleable ways to make money online by building niche websites.

See their articles on como ganar dinero con encuestas or como ganar dinero desde casa for examples of the type of education these courses can provide (note: linked articles are in Spansih).

What This Trend Means

The more pressing question isn’t simply why these businesses have been successful so far, but if we have enough information to extrapolate the emergence of a longer term trend, or simply a temporary fad.

There’s no doubt that the emergence of online tools has greatly changed the face of education in countries worldwide, but the question is whether traditional academia will be replaced by lower cost practicum courses, like those mentioned above.

In my view, despite the early success of these courses, I think they are ultimately supplementary to traditional university degrees, and won’t replace the need for higher education and formal diplomas any time soon.

That said, I also believe it stresses the urgency of the matter, and reveals a pressing need for “traditional” universities to do more to adapt their educational systems to an online world.

While this has seen some movement in the US, schools in Spain have been somewhat slower to respond. To what extent this will make them less competitive among future classes remains to be seen.