Spike in online enrollment not surprising to many

The rising popularity of online education, he said, concerns faculty union members who believe campus officials could farm out face-to-face courses to online educators during a labor standoff.

“There’s some protectionism there,” Junco said. “It’s also a mindset that says, ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it. This is the way we do things in academia.’”

This year’s Sloan-C report isn’t the first to document faculty’s questioning of online course quality. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Sloan National Commission on Online Learning released a study in August that showed 70 percent of faculty members surveyed said web courses were inferior to traditional face-to-face teaching.

Nearly half of faculty who have taught an online course said the platform is either inferior or somewhat inferior to in-person classes.

This year’s Sloan-C report documented a gradual rise in online training for college professors. Only two out of 10 colleges that offer online classes lack an online course training program for faculty, although 60 percent of respondents said their campus had “informal mentoring” for educators learning to lead web-based classrooms.

The Sloan-C report surveyed decision makers from public and private colleges to gauge if online classes were considered a tool for campus growth. Seventy-four percent of online institutions were “more likely to believe that online is critical for their long-term strategy,” while about 50 percent of for-profit and private nonprofit schools agreed.


Sloan-C report