The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Q&A with Online Education Entrepreneur Chip Paucek of @2Uinc

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Chip Paucek is the co-founder and CEO of 2U, Inc., a start-up company at the forefront of education technology.  Learning from the experiences of his company’s first dozen ventures, Paucek is a well-informed entrepreneur in the growing field of online education. His innovative work at 2U earned him the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2012 Award, and he was recently invited to be on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Education & Skills.  He comes to Dartmouth to speak about the future of higher education and what that changing landscape means for traditional learning methods utilized at Dartmouth College. Before presenting his public lecture, "What is Online Learning?", Courtney Wong '15 sat down with Chip Paucek for a brief interview.  Courtney Wong (CW): How can we get students to become more open to the idea of online learning?Chip Paucek (CP): We've actually found that there is an overwhelming interest from students about this technology and instead, the main resistance comes from university administration and  faculty.  In this day and age, students want to embrace new technologies.  Faculty are less embracing of change, and not surprisingly so because most online content is frankly pretty crappy.

CW: How would you respond to critics that say face-to-face communication is essential in any learning environment?CP:  I would say that I agree! The programs that we venture emphasize the necessity of face-to-face communication. If anything, these programs are perhaps even more intimate. Online educational quality can equal to on-campus educational quality.  You have the same admissions standards, degrees, and sychronized content, all still maintaining face-to-face communication. The only difference is that with online education, all you need is a camera and a browser. 

CW: What made you interested in entrepreneurship in the first place? 
CP: I never expected to be an entrepreneur, and yet 2U is my third venture-backed company.  I've met many other entrepreneurs who are so self-motivated, and meeting them has prompted the sharing of ideas and innovations that have influenced me.  I've also had the experience of working for a struggling company.  Standard Deviants sold millions of DVDs and was picked up by TV Guide, but in the end the company didn't do that well.  You learn more from the struggles than the successes.  That's why my personal slogan is, "live like everyday is a holiday, and every meal is a feast."

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences