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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Todd Hitchcock, COO of Pearson Embanet (Part 6)

Posted on Monday, Apr 14th 2014

Sramana Mitra: That’s only true if you’re looking at those local types of businesses. We work globally and we work on only digital entrepreneurships – IT, IT-enabled services types of businesses. That’s non-local and a lot of it is very scalable. We’re seeing a lot of interest from entrepreneurs all around the world – not just from the United States.

Todd Hitchcock: I absolutely agree. Traditionally, we work with colleges and universities to put those programs in place driven by their region. I think you’re hitting on a macro trend. There is tremendous opportunity for international entrepreneurship programs. To that end, it hasn’t been one that has been brought to us by a specific partner yet. I think you’re really catching on something that has tremendous possibility.

Sramana Mitra: This is more of a vision or conviction – every engineering program should teach their students entrepreneurships.

Todd Hitchcock: I would add business programs to that as well. I agree.

Sramana Mitra: Part of the reason is that engineers typically make better entrepreneurs than MBAs. Statistically, there’re lots of data corroborating this assumption. As an undergraduate is getting his/her engineering degree, that person should have a relatively strong entrepreneurship education right then and there. That, I think, will vastly improve the odds of them succeeding as entrepreneurs as they go along. Probably, we’ll call them to venture into entrepreneurship early on in their careers as well. To that end, one of your colleagues in the industry that I spoke with was mentioning that deans in a lot of the engineering schools – especially at state schools –are trying to figure out how to make that happen in an economically viable way. If you hire faculty to teach thousands of students entrepreneurship, that’s not an easy thing to make work.

Todd Hitchcock: Traditionally in the US and North America, entrepreneurship is a discipline inside of an Associate’s Degree or potentially a concentration. What you’re talking about has a chance of being more impactful. It’s talking about imbuing entrepreneurship in a professional discipline like engineering rather than having entrepreneurship as a standalone. In the programs that I was referring to earlier, entrepreneurship is a standalone program.

Sramana Mitra: There entrepreneurship is a broader discipline as in you can start your own retail store or your own Laundromat perspective. I’m taking about a much more specific perspective aligned with the trends of society. We have a highly driven society. Technology or technology-enabled entrepreneurship is booming around the world right now and we’re seeing it in every geography. The trend is very powerful. I think closely coupling engineering and entrepreneurship is really going to make a gigantic difference there.

Todd Hitchcock: I think there are two approaches to it. Number one is to imbue entrepreneurship and disciplines into a professional program. It can be integrated directly into the curriculum. I haven’t seen a partner that has actually thought of that. That’s a compelling program. The other way is – if I recall you mentioned the interview with regards to edX – using a massively open online course to provide those types of experiences to professionals who are already in the field. One is almost a precursor to imbue it directly to the study itself. The other is for those who are practicing professionals that need those skills without going back to school and taking a new degree.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Todd Hitchcock, COO of Pearson Embanet
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