If you have not seen the recent Sloan Report, “Class Differences: Online Education in the United States,” by Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, I would highly recommend it. In fact, this report should be reviewed by all vice presidents for academic affairs and vice presidents for enrollment management.
As I have personally observed during my own campus visits and as this report identifies, far too many non-profit campuses continue to lag behind for-profit institutions in considering how to integrate online learning into their long-term enrollment planning strategies. Today’s high school students at the top 100 high schools are actively engaged in online learning. More schools are also providing students with the tools they need to take advantage of online offerings. For instance, district 219 outside of Chicago has given every freshman a laptop computer and will move to a fully integrated online learning support system by 2013.
It’s easy to say that the students of tomorrow will be looking for more expansive online course offerings, but the fact is that tomorrow is really today. This study found that in the fall semester of 2009, nearly one million more students were enrolled in online classes than just one year prior — the largest single-year jump ever recorded.
The study also noted that nearly 30 percent (or 5.6 million) of college and university students are now taking at least one online course.
Will your campus be ready to meet the expectations of the incoming freshmen this fall? The future of online education shows that learning outcomes are generally the same when compared to face-to-face classes.
Even if your campus is not considering online programs, how is your campus planning to integrate online tools with face-to-face classes to further expand student engagement and ultimately further enrich their educational experience?
While not every campus can enter the now highly competitive online market, those who are not exploring ways to integrate these online tools to better and further enhance the educational experience are missing the next big opportunity in education. This trend also marks what I believe will be a standard expectation of practice by the year 2015.
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