eConcordia

eConcordia is an online learning company owned by the Concordia University Foundation.  Check link for more info: www.econcordia.com

Looking into eConcordia’s market niche is quite interesting for me as it has offered me my very first e-learning experience almost five years ago. 

MARKET FOCUS

eConcordia offers some of the same higher education credit courses that are offered by Concordia University in a traditional setting, while also offering non-credit courses, professional development courses.  Additionally, the creation of custom-designed training courses for corporations.

TYPE OF OFFERINGS

eConcordia offers services:  access and development of courses, development of advanced portals and web application, online tools, web hosting.

BUYER

The buyer varies depending on who eConcordia is dealing with and what type of service is being offered.  When designing a training course for a specific corporation, or a mandatory credit course for a higher education institution, the learning is being bought for the learner.  However, when an optional course (non-credit, professional development or elective) is designed and offered by a higher education institution, the primary buyer is at the institutional level yet it is still essential that the service is eventually desired/bought by the learner.

GLOBAL MARKET

eConcordia services are offered in both English and French.  Services are otherwise available world-wide.  A relevant example is eConcordia’s development of a certificate in Canadian Studies to be offered to Internatiaonal Students before they relocate to Canada.  More info: http://cjournal.concordia.ca/journalarchives/2006-07/oct_26/007924.shtml 

Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

In servicing Higher Education, eConcordia compliments the traditional established learning system. However, when dealing with corporations, there is a high potential that it is substituting for other forms of learning or even replacing the existing learning systems.

4 comments


1 David Vogt { 09.23.08 at 8:35 pm }

When you say, “Services are otherwise available world-wide”, does this really mean that they are marketing to a global audience?? The Internet doesn’t automatically create a global business. For example, MET (and ETEC522) has students who currently inhabit many parts of the planet, but most have some form of root relationship with UBC. Truly marketing to a global audience is something most Universities aren’t very good at imagining (it isn’t part of their core business model). Most end up offering some ’boutique’ international courses as you mention, but haven’t tackled the global market in any sincere way.

If you look into the future, I believe this poses a *big* challenge for Universities everywhere, who traditionally rely on a regional entitlement business model. Those few institutions that will learn how to compelling package and market globally will gradually eat their sedentary cousins’ lunches. Few are doing it well so far, but others will come. Most sedentary institutions consider that their “brand” will allow them to survive this competition, but there’s always a better brand…

Or do you see this as analogous to the surprisingly strong survival of the printed book in this digital age – that the comfort of a real campus will always outweigh the price and efficiency advantages of a digital campus? This is a great question to ask this group because you’re caught in the swing – I suspect you’ve all selected the digital campus for lifestyle reasons but you’ve also mostly bought the local brand. Am I right?

For UBC this is a burning business question: UBC is attempting to position itself as a first-rank GLOBAL institution, but hasn’t really done much to globalize its products (e.g. MET).

Thanks for your thoughts…


2 Bruce Spencer { 09.26.08 at 1:49 pm }

Your analogy between the survival of the book and the survival of the traditional university is an interesting one. I would have to argue there’s room for both and that neither is likely to be written off completely.

I can also see plenty of issues associated with becoming a GLOBAL learning institution, Creditability is the first one that comes to mind. Why would I be interested in acquiring a digital degree from the University of X in Country Y if it wasn’t something that would be readily recognized or even easily achieved in my own country?

Mobility is another one. We are all aware that universities typically allocate physical seats/placements for foreign students, mostly in specialized fields (i.e. engineering, medicine) and I suspect part of the attraction to attending a university in another country is the likelihood of subsequent employment and permanent residency – not something that can be achieved digitally. Given a choice, and as a foreign student, which one are you most likely to go with?

All meat and potatoes stuff but I think it’s important to remember who pays the bills and what it is they’re likely to buy.

So… is it a Swing or is it a Merry-Go-Round? My feeling is that once the ride comes to a stop, two markets will emerge. And while there may well be fewer post secondary institutions than before, to suggest their demise in eminent is…. well… difficult to digest.


3 Gillian Gunderson { 09.27.08 at 9:46 am }

As David predicted, I chose digital for the lifestyle and ended up buying the local brand.

Bruce’s analysis hit the nail on the head: credibility is a huge issue. Arguments over whether f2f or online is better still occur. Since I will be living/working in this area, I wanted to have a known “brand”; that way there would be reassurance for others that I hadn’t sent some money off to a PO box in order to be rewarded with a piece of paper.

It seems it could be a bit of “chicken and egg” for universities trying to become global institutions – have to have a global reputation in order to become global.

Two possibilities: a global organization of universities that provides reassurance of particular standards or individual university trying to adapt to local markets (maybe small “real” presence). I’m not sure about the viability of the second possibility.


4 Laura Macleod { 09.28.08 at 10:29 am }

A very interesting question, David! I certainly chose the program for lifestyle reasons (I live in Toronto and work full-time!) but it was also a program that had unique qualities that made it work for me.
1. A higher ed focus – no other program I looked at had that!
2. 100% on-line – no residency requirement! Because most other programs were focused on K-12, they had summer-time residency requirements. While y’all seem like great people, I don’t want to spend my vacation days with you!

I looked at a number of different programs before deciding on MET – that said, I used to work at UBC so do have a connection to the institution.

I know the university looks at selling itself internationally, but how much comparative selling do they do? How well equipped are they to look at their programs in that kind of comparative context?

Laura

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