‘The Economist’ details positive iMBA experience at Gies, despite online education’s challenges

BIF generalThe digital age has thrown a lot at many different sectors of the economy, and higher education is no exception.

As The Economist details in a July 19 article, universities have cleared one hurdle while encountering a new one.

The first challenge came from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Acting as a potential disruption to the way universities conduct business, MOOCs offered online courses. “But,” the article stated, “that assumption (regarding its potential disruption) rested on a misunderstanding of what students are paying for. They are not buying education for its own sake, but rather a certificate from a respected institution.”

The Economist interviewed Gies College of Business iMBA graduate, Vice-Admiral Al Harms, who took the online program with his son.

His positive experience illustrated the appeal to earning an online degree from a reputable university. Harms loved the duality of tackling coursework himself but also with classmates on certain projects. Overall, he thought the program was a “very cool way to learn.”

It’s clear that others agree, considering that the article points out the Gies iMBA program has more than 1,750 students enrolled online.

However, the article now details a new challenge to higher education’s business model, and that’s its reliance on “online program managers” (OPMs).

These companies offer support for universities engaging in online programs.

Moving forward, partnerships formed with OPMs – like 2U, Pearson, and Coursera – will be monitored closely by the universities. Competition might just have started to elevate and costs incurred by students is fluctuating.

The first hurdle proved universities still have the brand students crave, but moving forward there is still plenty to sort through in the digital market.