In my 40 years in the field, I have not seen as bizarre a continuing education story as this one.
A for-profit online course provider named Cengage is offering the same online courses through two different nonprofit systems:
1.Continuing education departments in colleges, universities and schools, which charge fees of around $100 per class.
2.Public libraries, which pay Cengage and then offer them free to the general public.
Many continuing educators in colleges are "shocked," stunned that Cengage would offer the same courses for free in their own local communities.
The courses offered through continuing education programs Cengage calls "Ed2Go." The courses offered free through public libraries Cengage calls "Gale." But they are the same courses, same instructors, same length, same content. And Cengage puts both the free students into the same classes as the Ed2Go students, according to a librarian we interviewed.
Cengage, as a for-profit, wants as much profit as possible. So the more students, the more income, the more profit. Understood. But pitting their own continuing education program Partners in colleges and universities all across North America against their own local public libraries. Not understood.
Disclosure and Self Interest: Ed2Go competes with my nonprofit organization, LERN, which offers UGotClass online courses that are promoted by over 200 colleges, universities and schools in the U.S. and Canada. UGotClass is growing by a whopping 20% a year. A number of colleges are now considering UGotClass as a result of Cengage offering free classes through public libraries. So I am not complaining about the Cengage story, just mystified.
As I said, it is the most bizarre continuing education story I've seen in 40 years.