Gazette.Net: Online education company opts for Landover

Posted: February 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

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2tor �2tor is changing the way people think about post-secondary education,� says CEO Chip Paucek.

A fast-growing online education company has picked Landover for its headquarters and plans to hire 100 people over the next year.

2tor partners with universities to offer online degrees. The company has grown from 15 to 350 employees, with 250 in Maryland, since it launched four years ago.

�2tor is changing the way people think about post-secondary education,� said Chip Paucek, the company�s former COO and recently named CEO.

Unlike primarily online schools such as DeVry University and the University of Phoenix, 2tor�s model offers graduate programs from major universities. It has partnerships with the University of Southern California, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Graduates receive their degrees from the university.

�Today, we�re happy to be breaking that ice,� Paucek said.

2tor also has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chapel Hill and Hong Kong. Its headquarters previously were in New York.

Backed with $70 million in venture capital investments, including funding from Bethesda�s Novak Biddle, 2tor plans to hire 100 people in Maryland over the next year and announce new partnerships, Paucek said.

The privately held company would not disclose its annual revenues.

2tor works with the universities to develop its online curriculum and then presents it to students through a combination of social networking and video conferencing, Paucek said.

Typically, 10 students participate in each course and converse with each other and their instructors through a multimember Skype-like system. 2tor�s main interface also functions similar to Facebook, with notifications for assignments, walls and a �friending� system.

Paucek said Landover was chosen as 2tor�s headquarters because of its proximity to Metrorail and Amtrak transportation, which not only take executives to the New York offices but provide mass transit for most of 2tor�s employees in Maryland. Most of 2tor�s senior executive staff already worked in Maryland and 2tor also plans to hire a new chief of revenue for the office, he said.

�It�s a great place to populate the business,� Paucek said.

County officials have met with 2tor and say they are excited by the announcement.

�The good fortune of having a technology-based company that is connected to the local work force and higher education is a big win on all fronts,� said David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for the county�s economic development team. �Higher education is a vital part of economic development and strengthening the work force.�

A November survey of 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide showed that 65 percent view online learning as a critical part of their long-term strategy, according to Babson Survey Research Group of Babson College in Massachusetts. This is a 2 percent increase since 2010. More than 60 percent of these institutions are in the for-profit sector.

About 6.1 million students took at least one online course during the fall of 2010, although the 10 percent rise since 2009 represented the second-smallest enrollment growth since 2002, according to the survey.

Georgetown had long considered launching an online program and was encouraged to do so, given the current state of the available technology, Jeanne Matthews, interim chairwoman of the nursing department, wrote in an email to The Gazette. 2tor helps guide prospective students through the application process and provides the university with a learning management system, she said. The company also helps market the program, which started in March.

�2tor remains at the forefront of online learning technology, and we are excited by the opportunity to utilize the company�s dynamic platform to bring our longstanding graduate program to life in an online format,� Matthews said. �A major reason we launched this online format was to bring our values-based, academically rigorous nursing program to students throughout the country, especially to those in rural and underserved areas.�

To date, 320 students have enrolled in Georgetown�s online graduate nursing program, with the first graduates expected this fall.

2tor offers programs in nursing, social work, education and business, and plans to expand to areas such as public administration and engineering, Paucek said.

�We�re one of the highest-funded education startups in the U.S. and expect to grow aggressively in the next 24 months,� he said.

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Gazette.Net: Online education company opts for Landover

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February 16th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

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