5 types of online learners could make or break your institution

New report reveals why it’s critical for colleges and universities to know these online learners

online-learners-institutionAny institution worth their salt knows that more and more students are turning to online education…but not for your mom’s ‘Online Intro to Tying 101.” Today’s students are as nuanced in their needs as the online and blended offerings institutions need to provide. And according to a new report, it’s only those higher-ed colleges and universities that can market to, and satisfy, these five groups that will thrive in the future.

The report, “The Five Faces of Online Education: What Students and Parents Want,” was conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in an effort to better help higher-ed institutions understand their quickly evolving student body.

According to the report, online learning, once a niche educational medium, has become part of the mainstream: 34 percent of all higher-ed students (about 7 million) currently take at least one online course, with 3 million students learning primarily through online courses.

In a stunning find, the BCG found that of the 2,500 students it surveyed, 50 percent think that blended courses deliver better outcomes in education than traditional instruction does, and more than 50 percent who have taken an online course said they found online courses as effective as on-campus classes. 62 percent said they believe that the traditional classroom could benefit from online instruction, and 63 percent agreed that online courses and degrees are gaining in importance as a part of the criteria for choosing an educational institution.

“Students desire a much greater level of interactivity than current learning environments often provide,” explains the report. “Institutions that fail to prepare for these shifts and respond to the dramatically increased competition among online offerings risk losing relevance and overall market share.”

(Next page: The 5 types of online learners—and why they matter)