Is this the online learning model of the future?

Flex class options are seeing spikes in enrollment among Gen C students; here’s how to get started.

flex-online-classA new generation of students already familiar with an online learning format are eagerly signing up in droves for an online education model that optimizes one characteristic above all others: flexibility.

In 2013, over 7.1 million college students enrolled in an online course, contributing to the steady 260 percent increase in online enrollment over the last decade. As current and future student populations—made up of Millennials and Gen Zs, a generation collectively now referred to as Generation C—become even more digitally reliant, we’ll see more students flock in record breaking numbers to flexible learning environments.

What’s contributing to this growth? “Flex-classes,” a preferred learning style among Gen Cs that offers “flex-attendance“ options to join classes “in-person” or “online” throughout the duration of a course, allowing students to more efficiently, and affordably, learn anytime, anywhere.

In fact, if the current enrollment growth rate continues, nearly half of all college students will be enrolled in a flexible online learning course by 2020.

Based on a cross-generational commonality to stay digitally connected and plugged into mobile devices, these two generations expect more accessible, technology-forward learning environments that give them the flexibility, mobility and freedom to learn when and where they want.

The role of colleges for flex-classes

However, Gen C’s demand for more flexible online learning options is not currently being met by higher education institutions.

A Babson Survey Research Group study in 2013 shows that only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently offer a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), and 55 percent of institutions are still undecided about offering online courses.

While some educators are resistant to implementing flex-class options, these programs offer higher education institutions an opportunity to reach more students and boost enrollment. Not only do online flex-classes help stimulate enrollment growth, they also create a more personalized, self-directed learning experience for Gen C students.

(Next page: What makes a good flex-class? 3 steps to getting started)

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