How to manage barriers to online education programs

The University System of Georgia’s example can help other colleges improve online student retention levels.

A majority of higher-education institutions consider online education programs crucial to their long-term success, according to a recent study from Education Sector.

The study also examined key challenges in online education and explained how educators could learn from one successful college system’s impressive online student retention numbers.

The Calling for Success: Online Retention Rates Get Boost From Personal Outreach study closely aligns with another recent report, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States, compiled by Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson, and Sloan-C. This 10th annual report about the state of online education programs is based on survey data collected and analyzed by Babson and the College Board from more than 2,800 colleges and universities.

The future of online education programs

The survey found that 69.1 percent of institutions considered online education programs a critical piece of their long-term academic strategies. The number of students signing up for online learning opportunities continues to surge, having increased by 570,000 students in 2012 to a total of 6.7 million students. At least 32 percent of students take an online course during their college careers.

Though U.S. students are evidently attracted to online learning, the survey found that 44.6 percent of faculty believe teaching an online course takes more time and effort than a traditional course. Still, 77 percent of faculty said online learning is comparable to face-to-face learning.

(Next page: How one university system is improving student retention in online courses)

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