Online learning advocates have worried for years that the legal and ethical problems surrounding for-profit online colleges would be conflated with more traditional nonprofit university online course offerings.

A popular parody mocking for-profit schools and their web-based education might not help that cause.

online-viral-parody-videoA viral video that recently appeared on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim in the wee morning hours, created by a group of former writers from The Onion, takes aim at for-profit colleges for well-documented exploitative tactics that have drawn the ire of former students, professors, lawmakers, and attorneys general alike.

The parody advertisement for “For-Profit Online University” spends much of its 11 minutes poking fun at students who finish online classes in minutes — or even seconds — on their way to a degree.

The mock university, which deems its students “educustomers,” is said to have innovated the college experience by getting rid of buildings, full-time employees, and degree accreditation.

The video charges that For-Profit Online University has “stripped away” the trappings of traditional education and replaced it with “an efficient web 4.0 structure based on you.”

One FPOU student in the ad says he enrolled in online classes because life on a traditional campus was “a nightmare.”

“Now my laptop is basically my brain,” the student says.

The online ad critiques for-profit schools’ corporate approach to education by placing “data harvesting ad bots” in the virtual reality online classroom — avatars that “subsidizes” other students’ education.

“This isn’t a scam like real college,” a FPOU spokesman says in the online ad. “Come, profit with us.”

See below for eCampus News for-profit college coverage from the past few years, covering everything from government regulations on the industry to allegations of unethical business practices to persistent concerns that for-profit education might hurt the reputation of online learning.

Obama: for-profit colleges “making out like a bandit”President Obama delivered a forceful message to the predatory for-profit college industry. In response to a question at an event Friday at Binghamton University in New York state, Obama said these businesses were “making out like a bandit” preying on veterans and other students, as well as taxpayers.

U.S. for-profit colleges spend big on marketing while slashing other costs: Google’s biggest advertiser is neither a bank nor a retailer. It’s the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has recently been spending nearly $400,000 a day on ads, according to search analytics firm SpyFu, more than any financial firm or retailer, the traditional big spenders on online advertising.

For-profit college entrepreneur shifts to MOOCsMichael K. Clifford, a longtime powerhouse in the for-profit college industry, has launched a website offering 27 courses that can lead to college credits, similar to many massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Enrollment falling at for-profit colleges: Apollo Group Inc., the University of Phoenix’s parent company, will shutter roughly half its physical locations, though current students will be able to continue in their programs. The company couched the move in terms of growing interest from students taking online courses, and emphasized just 4 percent of students were affected.

House cracks down on for-profit recruiters targeting GI Bill benefits: The U.S. House of Representatives responded to military veterans’ scathing criticism of for-profit colleges last week and passed legislation that will prevent schools that accept GI Bill benefits from paying commission to recruiters.

Report blasts shortcomings of for-profit colleges: For-profit colleges are failing their students and saddling taxpayers with an enormous bill, a two-year investigation by the Senate education committee’s Democratic staff concluded.


Add your opinion to the discussion.