Through increasing competition in the training marketplace and a blurring of distinctions between academic and non-academic offerings online, there is an interesting debate developing about the nature and suitability of courses offered in various online environments.

What are the differences between online education offered through professional associations, corporate organizations or academia? What expectations do we as educators and students have of each institution and where and why do these expectations differ? Finally, what compromises and difficulties are negotiated when there is a partnership, such as a virtual corporate university, between two of these groups? How does collaboration affect the above expectations?

In addition to discussing the various online learning methodologies of academic and non-academic institutions, we will also explore the best practices for online learning in each of these environments. What are the factors, if any, that make one type of course suitable over another in a particular scenario?

First Steps

The first step will be to review examples of professional associations, corporate organizations and academia who have implemented online courses. By gathering information on how these institutions offer their courses, we will examine the similarities and differences between the various approaches and discuss how these results relate to our own expectations.


From our initial research, we can begin to formulate the requirements of industry and academy in the field of online education:

We will then look at partnerships between academia, professional associations and corporate organizations to examine how the requirements change with collaboration.

This will help us to develop best practices for online learning in professional associations, corporate and academic environments.

Finally, we will determine if there are guidelines that we can document on the suitability of certain types of courses for specific types of institutions or collaborative projects.