The Involvement of Corporations
in Distance Education
Diana G. Oblinger
North Carolina State University
Sean C. Rush
Corporations are involved with distance education for a variety of reasons and in multiple ways. Many corporations operate distance education organizations for their own employees in order to provide up-to-date information and ensure that they maintain the competitive advantage and productivity associated with skilled workers. Sometimes corporations provide education for customers. Well-informed customers make better product selections and tend to be more satisfied. Corporations are also involved in distance education as a business per se. This involvement ranges from providing venture capital to offering products or services that allow others to engage in distance education.
Today's corporate universities function as strategic umbrellas for meeting the total educational requirements of companies; they provide education, training, and human resource development, often tailored to specific business needs. Corporate universities can be found in all sectors—finance, information technology, manufacturing, professional services, and so on. Some corporate universities are entirely based within a single company whereas others may involve partnerships or outsourcing arrangements. Beyond providing training and education, corporate universities are ideal places for team building and for developing corporate culture (Anderson, 2001).
IBM provides an example of the variety of activities that could fall under a corporate university umbrella.
The IBM Global Campus offers almost 1,000 distributed learning offerings, including Webbased courses.