Education has been evolving for the past decade and continues to make major changes in the name of learning. Access to education, although increasingly expensive, is widely available due in large part to the many institutions implementing e-learning for different professional or degree-seeking students. This shake up to the traditional learning style has opened up a lot of opportunities for people with extenuating circumstances and also offers a lot of others (a new concept to education) – convenience.
As a person who has studied via both traditional and online forums, I definitely can see the benefits of both options. And although I don’t see traditional schooling vacating the “business” any time soon, I do see there are some very important discussions, and possibly, changes that need to occur to maintain its relevance. However, my personal opinion is as long as people don’t become robots and that more than one personality exists in the world, then there will always be a need for both forms of education.
The way I look at my education is that my bachelor’s program at a traditional in-class college was a stepping stone into adulthood. I mean, I had to do my own laundry, pay my own bills, and make my own responsible decisions or deal with the consequences. I learned great in-person communication skills and met some pretty amazing people along the way. It was more life learning mixed with a bit of education. I’m afraid online classes wouldn’t have fit what I needed at that time in my life.
Now, as an adult who has been out of college for a few years and has started my career, I recognized the need for a convenient way to continue learning and advancing. My current online program fits the bill for me now. The thought of going back to a traditional setting makes me want to tear my hair out, because I don’t think I could juggle the schedule and time constraints.
My point for that personal tidbit is that there will always be people who need education brought to them in the way they need at that time in their lives. As a marketing professional, it is important to realize the strengths of the program you are marketing while also addressing the concerns that potential students may have – this will be the competitive advantage.
Marketing is a way to connect to an audience, a person. Get them to relate to the program by identifying common themes and personas. For example, marketing an online program to working adults who need a professional program that can help advance their career, but offers flexibility and convenience. Two things that most traditional schools won’t be able to offer. On the flip side, in-person interaction with teachers and other students, as well as learning with others as opposed to learning on your own are all pros for traditional education. When used effectively, a competitive advantage is earned, but ultimately the advantage is identifying and recognizing the personas of students that your program works well for.