The Company Rethinking Education
With middle skill jobs lagging, workers need to adapt in order to be relevant. As occupations continue to evolve, ongoing training shifts from a luxury into a necessity. This is one necessity that the Penn Foster company has provided for more than 100 years. Penn Foster's origins trace back to group of 19th century coal miners who were striving to become foremen and superintendents. Although they were ambitious, they had no method of learning the skills that would make them eligible to advance within the workplace. Pennsylvania newspaper editor Thomas Foster recognized the dilemma and developed the distance learning method to provide miners with the after work training that they needed in order to get their promotions.
By 1945 five million students had enrolled in Penn Foster training programs. Today, the number is around 13 million and is only expected to rise. The Penn Foster team understands a one size fits all approach to education isn't what is necessary to provide the results that are needed. There needs to be a flexible approach to obtaining a high school diploma or a college degree. Penn Foster prides itself on pricing, with the claim that their per credit fees are 70 percent lower than those at comparative schools, including community colleges.
The price provides a question of why someone should pay for an online education when the majority of massive open online courses are free? The main answer is that MOOCs are ideal for those who are overeducated or underemployed. Although primarily distance based, Penn Foster provides hybrid programs as well, mixing online training with on site work experience if needed. They have created a community to give students the ability to record and upload video from their webcam, create their own personal blog, and form social groups with peers in the community. This makes Penn Foster far beyond the traditional online education.
The main goal is that Penn Foster doesn't want to be viewed as a distance learning company. They want to be viewed as a platform company instead. The company has recently expanded outside of Pennsylvania and Arizona to open up offices in Boston as a result. Boston is emerging as an innovation hub for education, making it the perfect option for Penn Foster. As the platform continues to innovate, fitting in within the city will provide more opportunities for the company to reach out to prospective students. The focus is not to make Penn Foster seem like an alternative to high schools or colleges, but to show that it can be a tool to help with getting an education at a high school or college. The company wants to work together with various educational facilities so that people have a greater sense of the education that they are pursuing and feel as if it is more within their reach than ever before; this way, the company won't seem like it's an enemy of educational facilities and people won't feel as if they have to choose Penn Foster over attending the school of their dreams.