Here’s how to meet the needs of online learners

So, what’s the alternative? One option is just to “rip and replace” the old system with a next-generation system. For some institutions, that may be the best alternative when considering the cost of not serving this market.

If you figure there are a thousand students who would be willing to pay, for example, $10,000 a year to have a degree from your institution, then that’s $10 million of lost revenue if your terms and financial aid programs aren’t flexible enough to accommodate their schedules.

In the end, the scale and the scope of an institution and programs will factor into this option.

The other alternative is to create a school-within-a-school. In essence, institutions keep the SIS that is already in place, and add a next-generation, highly flexible system to run online programs.

These new on-demand systems can drive traditional terms as well as nontraditional, non-term, and clock-hour programs. They can also package financial aid based on the borrower’s goals and schedule.

Students don’t lose eligibility or have to be repackaged because they drop one class. The systems will auto-award them based on an expanded timeframe and schedule for degree completion.

Ashford University, an on-campus and online institution, is one example of an institution that has enjoyed tremendous growth in their online program driven by a system designed to meet the needs of the on-demand generation of learners. Starting with fewer than 300 students in 2005, the school today boasts more than 89,000, with 99 percent of those taking classes online.

The benefits to flexible terms and systems go far beyond increased revenues. Students who have greater resources for achieving their academic goals are not only more likely to choose an institution, but with more resources and options available to them for taking courses, are also more likely to stay enrolled and complete their degrees.

From recruitment to retention to revenues, your level of success will be increasingly tied to the demand of today’s “on-demand” world.

Connor Gray is the chief strategy officer at Campus Management and is responsible for developing a robust strategic vision for the Company so it can help institutions successfully meet the demands of the changing landscape of higher education.

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