Columbia College Chicago Launches New Online Learning Initiative for Professionals in Creative Fields

College expands offerings geared toward new opportunities in gig economy and career advancement in arts, business

CHICAGO (July 20, 2017)—Columbia College Chicago announced today that it will launch its first online learning initiative for continuing education students who are looking to enhance their skills and succeed in arts and business. Starting August 28, Columbia College Chicago Online (Columbia Online) will offer courses that help to advance and expand career opportunities for individuals anywhere around the world.

Columbia Online will allow individuals to develop skillsets that are currently in high demand within the arts, media, business and the overall “gig” economy. The five courses—“American Sign Language 101,” “Introduction to Creative Writing,” “Introduction to Game Development,” “Introduction to Social Media and Digital Strategies,” and “Introduction to Freelancing”—opened for enrollment on July 17, 2017.

“Our new and robust online learning initiative responds to the needs of full-time and contract professionals, by providing them with the transferable skills they need to more effectively compete in a rapidly changing workplace,” said Stan Wearden, provost and senior vice president. “This launch reflects our commitment to supporting creative endeavors at any point in an individual’s career. We look forward to welcoming our first online continuing education students.”

Although Columbia currently supplements in-classroom learning with online materials, the new initiative extends the college’s digital capabilities to provide more individuals with career-advancing learning options on- and off-campus. The college plans to add more online course offerings within the next few years, as part of its five-year Strategic Plan implementation. The plan calls for Columbia to adopt a comprehensive approach toward developing a 21st-century academic curriculum, by integrating a new technology platform into its teaching, learning, and creating environments, including the Columbia Online initiative.

“While we continue to roll out new curriculum in the creative arts space, our initial suite of offerings includes foundational courses which were designed to fit well with future programming,” said Robert Green, vice provost for digital learning.“We have taken significant steps toward our goal of enhancing online education and look forward to furthering our mission of delivering high-quality coursework for creatives and entrepreneurs.”

According to an Intuit study, more than 40 percent of workers in the U.S. are expected to become independent contractors by 2020. Nearly 162 million individuals, or 20 to 30 percent, of the working-age population in the U.S. and Europe work within the “gig” economy, according to another study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Additionally, a recent article published by the Associated Press discusses how students want to strengthen their writing and communication skills, with “creative writing” currently being one of the most attractive majors. Columbia is aligning its curriculum to these trends, the growing number of career paths that exist outside the traditional, structured workplace, and to a workforce that relies heavily on mobile and digital technologies.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for more than 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit

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