Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AT&T rolls the dice on virtual school

Is online education the wave of the future or is it merely a band aid for schooling today – the present and cost-effective way to get a substandard education? While the answer to that particularly loaded question might not be conclusively answered for some time, there’s no doubt many tech companies are looking long and hard at the profit potential of virtual school. Now AT&T has entered the market – at least tangentially.

Recently, Georgia Tech University began offering a major accredited online education program that is substantially funded by AT&T. While some claim that the company is not directly benefitting from the program, AT&T will certainly come out ahead should GTU’s program succeed.

AT&T is not trying to answer the pending question about what virtual schools offer today’s students. Instead, AT&T is poised to pick up where traditional schooling leaves off.

In today’s fast-paced, tech-saturated marketplace, job seekers and those interested in increasing their career prospects must have continuing education. AT&T wants to be on the forefront of providing that education and it wants to offer that product to potential students virtually. It’s a dynamic that takes one of online education’s worst commercial flaws – that it ends abruptly – and eliminates it. Instead of pushing through one group of students and then going after another group, in an endless cycle of marketing and obsolescence, online continuing education providers are hoping to gain customers and keep them coming back. Perhaps not constantly, however, in some form or fashion of continual education.

For now, AT&T funded the Georgia Tech University initiative to test how well the program can train the skilled workers of today and tomorrow. Once they have that down, they can begin working on what comes next. Because what is to come is the one and only certainty in technology – it will definitely change – and someone will need to be there to explain it.

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