April 9, 2004

eCornell Relocates

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In the second half of March this year, eCornell, Cornell’s online professional education program, moved out of its Collegetown office on 312 College Avenue and into offices at 840 Hanshaw road in Community Corners. Prior to the move, eCornell had offices at the Hanshaw road location for learning designers, the production department, information technology support, and the chief technology officer.

The original concept during eCornell’s formation was to have the firm in one location, said John Neuman ’63, CEO of eCornell. According to Neuman, eCornell consolidated, combined functions, and reduced positions in the past weeks. As a result, eCornell was able to bring the firm to Hanshaw road.

“When we moved out of Collegetown, we consolidated everything here at Hanshaw road,” Neuman said, “which is a real benefit to finally have the firm in one place.”

The office in Collegetown functioned as the headquarters of eCornell and housed the administrative office, the chief financial officer’s office, the director of academic programs, marketing and customer support, and a department for program evaluation assessment.

Recently, eCornell restructured its organization which occurred independently from their move out of collegetown, but made the move possible, Neuman said. Restructuring came as a result of having a course catalog that was “big enough to have a very attractive library” for both retail students and corporate access, Neuman said.

“In the first two and a half to three years of eCornell, we had sought to rather rapidly build a pretty complete catalog or library of excellent courses authored by Cornell faculty,” Neuman said. This meant getting to a level of over 50 courses which they have now achieved, Neuman said.

“We’ve entered a new period of managing the business, where now the emphasis is now on selling what we have,” Neuman said.

The strengths of already existing programs include “the Cornell brand, the reputation of the three schools that we work with, which is the Johnson school, the school of Hotel Administration, and ILR, and the fact that the course content for the majority of courses, are based upon or are entirely similar to what we use in class sessions,” said Ross Pearo, director of marketing.

“[We are] getting indicators from the marketplace that competitors are using eCornell as a model and someone to try and emulate; which means that we must be doing something right if you’re starting to get those who would like to imitate us,” said Neuman. One prominent state university is using eCornell as a model, said Neuman. Neuman declined to give the name of the university due to privacy reasons.

Although emphasis is placed on the existing catalog, new programs are continually being developed but at a slower rate, Neuman said. In addition to new programs, custom work is also being done for clients like the United Nations, Neuman said.

Currently eCornell is designing a project to assess students before and after they take online UN courses.

“The other area we’re looking [at] is working with our development team here to find ways to help faculty and departments to use more of eCornell,” said Chris Proulx ’91, director of program management. “That could potentially mean a variety of different tools to make it easier for faculty and department to create short non credit courses using the available tools here at eCornell.”

According to Neuman, the online learning industry is a rapidly changing marketplace. “[Changes mean] opportunity for Cornell and eCornell, because we are rather rapidly adaptive,” Neuman said. “Usually for those companies that can move better and faster, you enhance the chance of success.”

Archived article by Michelle Seo
Sun Contributor