online program

What does it really take to build a flourishing online learning program?

A new report tracks online program improvements over the years and offers supports to guide institutions as they move forward

More than half of higher education institutions participating in a new survey offer at least one fully online program, and an additional one-third offer hybrid programs or online courses.

The new report updates a 2013 report that was a joint project of The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and The Learning House, Inc.

The number of institutions offering no online or hybrid courses or programs is declining. The report predicts soon will be in the single digits as a proportion of all institutions.

More institutions now offer online programs, and the number of programs offered also is increasing. Comparing data from the 2013 and 2016 surveys, the proportion of institutions that offered five or more fully online programs increased from 15 percent to 25 percent.

“No matter the modality, students are starting to expect flexibility to not just be an option but the norm in their educational experience,” according to the report. “Online or on ground, technology is pervading the classroom.”

The updated survey also reveals how more CIC member institutions have overcome barriers that in 2013 prevented them from increasing online course or program offerings.

More than 80 percent of surveyed CIC member institutions said they experienced barriers to online learning, including lack of acceptance of online instruction by faculty, as well as it requiring a greater amount of faculty time and effort to instruct online. But the 2016 report shows that fewer than half of those surveyed said those barriers still exist for them.

One of the major reasons that less barriers exist is due to the availability of more robust wireless solutions, says St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas. Read more about their experience here.

A new Wi-Fi performance boost could also help pave the way for stronger online programs. Read more here.

(Next page: 12 recommendations to build a strong online program)

Laura Ascione