Using online courses to increase class sizes without compromising retention

The University of Texas at Arlington has seen an increase in online students.

Bolstering student retention rates while growing enrollment numbers is possible through a strategic deployment of online classes, according to a new report.

A New America Foundation report, “Next Generation Universities,” released May 21, said other schools would be wise to follow the lead set by schools that have seen enrollments increase without the dip in retention that so often comes with more students.

The foundation suggests increasing the size of an institution and testing out new pedagogical ideas. Many of the universities highlighted in the report have increased the size of their classes without negatively affecting retention.

For example, the University of Texas at Arlington is using online courses and academic partnerships to now enroll more than 5,000 nursing school students. In fact, 27 percent of Arlington’s growing student body is enrolled solely online.

Meanwhile, the University of Central Florida has used online technologies to help with a burgeoning demand for its courses. About 2,700 of the university’s students are enrolled simultaneously in an online, mixed-mode or face-to-face class during a semester.

Thirty-two percent of courses there are now online, the report said. If the courses were in a physical location, they would require five classroom buildings.

At first glance, Arlington and Central Florida have little in common with each other or to Arizona State University, the University of California – Riverside, Georgia State University, and University at Buffalo, the other schools highlighted in the report. The six universities span the width of the entire country, with varying enrollment counts as high as 73,000 and as low as 28,000.

See Page 2 for how these universities can become models for higher education.

eCampus News Staff