E-learning as a recession hedge? Could this be part of a pitch?

Came across an interesting little theory about E-learning companies and consumer behaviour during a recession.  Have a look, its fast….. What do you think?  Do you agree?


1 Laura Macleod { 09.10.08 at 4:37 pm }

Drew –

Interesting! And a pattern that has occurred before. During the Depression of the 1930s, enrolments in Canadian universities went up – when things got tough on the farm, the answer was university!

2 Gillian Gunderson { 09.10.08 at 6:23 pm }


In another ETEC ourse, I researched factors affecting completion rates for elearning courses. The administrator for my program also looks after adult ed. He stated that when the economy was doing well and unemployment was low, drop out rates were huge. It seems that the incentive to complete courses is much reduced if job prospects are already good.

I know this is anecdotal, but it is interesting, nonetheless.

3 davidp { 09.10.08 at 9:12 pm }

Good one, Drew. And Laura and Gillian. You’ve spotted the kind of interesting phenomenon that entrepreneurs look for to build business ventures around.

Apollo Group owns University of Phoenix. In a related move it has just opened a fully online private university in New Brunswick called Meritus University.

See –> http://www.meritusu.ca/

These kinds of phenomena are key temporal trends that can be used to judge good moments for business start-ups.

For a really nice video podcast that looks at key inflection points and how they relate to business strategy see Chris Anderson’s very nice piece about technology’s “long tail.”…



4 Deepika Sharma { 09.10.08 at 10:20 pm }

Thanks all – some of the points discussed here are “new” to my rather naive thinking – the Chris Anderson’s v podcast nicely combines pricing, critical mass, tipping point (this is one of the few business related books that I have read and enjoyed)! Really enjoyed the talk.

However, in my own little world back home (India) I have not seen recession trends being discussed in terms of lost jobs / increased enrolments by media – my guess is given the huge population there is always a HUGE presssure on the job and education segment so what is created in terms of recession is just a small art of the whole.

Personally, I see the business of e-learning as trying to address a huge gap in our education system (a) reach (to remote locations where it is easier to post technology towers than people), particularly for primary and secondary school (b) access – to global courses that students cannot get in their resident towns and cities (I have put it briefly here, but it is more complex than that ) (c) retooling / recasting – learn while you work, change tracks from geography to computer science maybe…stuff like that.

I am sure business governs all this but there is an urgent demand for an addressal. How does one always make a business case?


5 davidp { 09.11.08 at 8:11 pm }

Excellent points, Deepika.

We’ll probably get into these discussion a bit more in the next module, but the development challenge in highly populated regions with diverse cultures and languages, as well economic gaps, requires alternative strategies like those outlined in the paper The Fortune at the Bottom of Pyramid (Prahalad, CK. & Hart, S.L., 2002).

A very nice illustration via video podcast of an alternative educational technology strategy is Sugata Mitra’s presentation from the LIFT Conference in Geneva in 2007, that outlined the “hole in the wall” experiments in India.


6 nancy castonguay { 09.12.08 at 8:57 pm }

Hi Drew, I think this could definitely be a pitch given that Peter Cohan is the president of a management consulting and venture capital firm… although the disclaimer states that he has no ties to Apollo Group, it makes sense that he would use blogging as a venue for a pitch in his company’s interest.
It’s interesting to know that the trend seems to indicates that in times of recession, people appear to invest more into education… I wonder if this is solely a North American phenomenon… given that recession times in Puerto Rico can’t be as cushy as recession times in say B.C.

7 David De Pieri { 09.13.08 at 3:55 pm }

It seems that companies are wanting to hang on to the good people while times are tough by offering in-house and return to school incentives. I read about this trend a while ago and e-Learning is an ideal mechanism to do just that.

Both parties win!

“E-learning is already demonstrating its power to offer employees more training options”

“E-learning may have an unexpected benefit, the survey concluded. By introducing new ideas, the implementation of e-learning often forces HR professionals to reexamine their current programs and devise improvements.”



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