Posted: January 01, 2013

Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureate: Glenn Jones

Founder of online university saw the potential for technology to democratize education

Maria Martin

For many young adults, the road to earning a college education is fairly bumpy.

Put up roadblocks like expense, time and distance, and many give up hope of ever getting to their destination.

Consider Glenn Jones a travel guide with one fairly straightforward technique for finding an easier path.

Technology.

The chairman and CEO of Jones International Ltd., and founder of Jones International University has sculpted his career from the dramatic technological advances our country has seen over the past few decades.

"I’ve been surrounded by technology my whole life," Jones says. "Right now, we’re living in an exciting time. You get huge leverage when you put something on the Internet. We can now fuse the communications revolution with education."

Jones began his career in the cable industry, first representing companies in acquisition efforts, then starting his own cable operations company, Jones Intercable Inc.

It wasn’t long before the idea of merging cable and education occurred to
the entrepreneur.

Heather O’Mara, CEO of the nonprofit HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op, says Jones’ track record shows that every field he worked in, including cable, led back to education.

"He focused on teaching, whether it be with TV programming, or by partnering with educational groups in the field," O’Mara says.

"He’s exciting and entrepreneurial, and he taught me never to be afraid to take risks," says O’Mara, who was president of the Jones Knowledge Group for Jones International University. "He started talking about democratizing education even before the mid-1980s. He has incredible passion for what he does, and it affects everyone around him."

One of his first steps into the field of education came in 1987, when Jones started Mind Extension University, a cable-television-based program that focused on broadcasting advanced-placement courses across the country.

Through the 1980s and ’90s, an entrepreneurial spirit ensured Jones had a hand in illuminating the treasures that the technological revolution revealed. In the mid ’90s, Jones Cyber Solutions Ltd., offered software solutions to telecommunications companies. Also in the ’90s, he started various media groups; Jones Entertainment Group produced award-winning documentaries.

But his shining achievement is Jones International University, the first fully online university to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The Centennial-based company, which employs around 500, is what Jones calls "an enabling enterprise." The university has enabled many non-traditional students to get an education, he says.

"If you’re dropped out of the education system, you’re dropped out of the economic system," said Jones, the author of several books on education and telecommunications. "So how do you address that?"

Jones Knowledge Group Inc. offers online course management tools, including an e-global library that enables students to research, offers reference assistance and career-development resources.

During the Revolutionary War times, Jones said, our country relied on pamphlets and the spoken word to inspire democracy. Today, the Internet relays information around the world.

Education, Jones says, is the great equalizer, and he’s determined to reach out to people, not just in this country, but around the world. The Korean War veteran believes it’s essential that those with the ability to help step forward. Education, he says, is the best way to reach the greatest number of people.

Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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