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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

Disrupting the Academy: Tech & Education

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

The disruption of traditional education channels is under way. Services including Udemy, Coursera, and The Great Courses leverage the Internet to deliver education and training for nominal fees. A step above are companies like GetSmarter and Emeritus that deliver on-line professional-executive level education courses endorsed by leading universities, such as MIT and Columbia. Technology makes possible virtual campuses that bring together global student bodies to study and collaborate without geographic constraints.

Distribution of students enrolled in Emeritus-Columbia's January 2018 Digital Strategies for Business: Leading the next generation enterprise. The 466 students come from geographically dispersed locations across the globe.

Certificate programs and courses are ideal for individuals with operational industry experience, who need to upgrade and update their skill sets. They are generally more focused on practical applications, can be completed more quickly, and are significantly less expensive than traditional MBAs. As of this writing, the price of on-line continuing education courses endorsed by leading universities generally range from $1,500.00 to $3,500.00, while the full costs of MBAs from top universities such as Stanford, Columbia, Harvard and NYU can exceed $400,000 over two years[1].

Value Networks

The returns on graduate programs have historically extended beyond gains in knowledge and skills. Students who share the MBA experience, for example, make valuable connections that can open doors and help propel careers. CEOs, executives and senior managers often reach back to their school networks for talent and support.

Thanks to social media, on-line continuing education courses offer students similar opportunities to develop professional contacts. I’ve taken three of these courses, two partnered with MIT and one with the Columbia Business School (in progress), that were attended by nearly 900 students from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. More than 200 have joined my professional LinkedIn network, which makes me a part of their network. These professional social networks create parallel value networks that we are just learning to effectively use and exploit.


Technology is expanding options for professionals seeking to update their knowledge and skills. On-line continuing education classes developed in collaboration with leading institutions offer great value at lower costs than traditional academic programs. Their value largely depend on being affordable, concise, timely and relevant. Those connected to leading universities add prestige to their value propositions. They also promote professional networking through social media, particularly LinkedIn. These characteristics make them ideal for experienced professionals, managers and executives working in dynamic environments subject to recurring technological disruptions.



[1] John A. Byrne, Full cost of the MBA keep rising: four schools above $200K, March 7, 2016, Poets & Quants,

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