Hot Stuff: e-Learning, Certification & Academia

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There’s an interesting alliance in the marketplace at work between academic institutions and e-learning companies. Having just completed a survey of academic programs that include coverage of specific certifications in their degree requirements, or that grant credit to individuals who possess certain certifications, I’ve recently had the chance to look this terrain over fairly closely. Along the way, I was struck by the number of academic institutions whose online educational Web sites either matched one another or were strikingly similar in look and feel. This led me to learn that many institutions are working with industry e-learning partners to offer more or less turnkey online education programs, many of which include certification coverage and content.




Traditionally, this kind of classroom training has occurred outside degree plans and hasn’t been tightly integrated into associate, bachelor, or graduate degree programs. But increasing competition for students and the desire to find more ways to win new program entrants are having an impact. In the past three years, the once rigid and strictly patrolled boundary between “ivory tower” academic training and “workplace-oriented” technical and professional training is growing downright fuzzy, if not completely absent in some programs.



That said, it’s still the case that while many community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning do offer IT certification training, by no means all of them include such training within official curricula. What I’ve tried to identify in this survey is an initial foray into identifying those institutions that either include IT certification training as part of their official degree plans, that require students to obtain IT certifications to obtain degrees, or that offer credit to students if and when they obtain such credentials.



All this said, please note that several e-learning or exam prep companies appear to be forging alliances with academic institutions to bring IT certification and conventional academic training closer together. As I surveyed available offerings and information online, the same URLs or Web site structures kept popping up, even though they covered offerings from institutions all over the country. Where big business senses opportunity, the bet is that growth is in the offing. As I update this survey over time, I expect to see more and more institutions partnering up to offer IT certification to their student populations.



At present, however, the following industry players appear to be big in brining IT certification coverage—including Security+ and CISSP in many programs—to academic institutions all over the US:






In particular the first two programs seem to have had a lot of success in recruiting institutional partners. House of Education has partners in nearly 40 states, Kaplan is currently active in 15 states, and College for Success has at least 10 institutional partners (depending on how you count multiple locations for institutions with the same name).

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