New Learning Models

2U and WeWork Push Mutual Goal of Mixing Learning and Work

A deal between 2U and WeWork will give students enrolled in 2U-produced online university programs access to physical co-working space around the world and provide scholarship funding for WeWork members interested in pursuing graduate degrees in 2U schools.

Under the agreement, 2U, which co-manages online degree courses at a number of U.S. institutions, will offer up to $5 million in scholarships over three years specifically to the 175,000 WeWork members and 4,000 employees who choose to pursue masters or short courses in 2U-run programs. The 13,000 students enrolled in 2U programs will, in turn, be able to use WeWork co-working facilities, giving them opportunities to connect with others in person.

2U will also gain a perpetual license to Learn.co technology. This programmer-oriented online learning platform was created by coding bootcamp provider Flatiron School, a WeWork subsidiary. According to 2U, Learn.co will be used in 2U courses alongside its own learning management system. Those programs include entire bachelor's and master's degrees as well as courses offered through 2U division GetSmarter, which produces online short courses to working professionals.

The two companies said they will also create a "future of learning and work" center in an unspecified WeWork location during 2019. This will provide space for 2U participants, including faculty and staff, to host classes, run lectures and produce other events.

Richard Price, a research associate in higher education for the Christensen Institute, said he is intrigued by how WeWork and 2U are "blurring the lines between schooling and work" by offering physical spaces where "working, learning, socializing and more can happen simultaneously for a wide variety of companies and learners."

As he told Campus Technology, "Historically, we've seen a clear division between the world of learning and the world of work, one that has created real costs for students." This type of arrangement, he noted, will "[bridge] the skills gap and [create] opportunities to innovate in ways that could make college more affordable and more convenient. Lifelong learning could slowly become a sort of lifelong college."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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