Online learning continues to offer expanded learning opportunities to traditional and nontraditional students, but it also challenges institutional norms.
Now, a new report examines what chief online officers have to say about must-have technologies and tools, new program ventures, and alternative learning providers.
The 2018 Changing Landscape of Online Education is part of a continuing effort to uncover what chief online officers at higher-ed institutions think about learning policies, practices, and plans. It’s a joint initiative of Quality Matters and Eduventures.
The report offers a deeper dive into important online learning subject matters and policies, including these 9 areas:
1. Though the term “online learning” can blur the lines between all-online and blended learning, surveyed institutions tend to emphasize fully-online programs over blended learning—in fact, very few institutions said they see blended learning as a core strategy.
“At the course level, 55 percent of respondents said online is emphasized more than blended. Forty-eight percent said the same at the program level, compared to 5 percent and 10 percent emphasis, respectively, placed on blended courses and programs,” according to the report.
2. Most survey respondents say they view the online learning market as more competitive than it was five years ago. Community college respondents are more likely to cite local competition, and four-year schools point more frequently to regional or national competitors.
3. Nearly all surveyed four-year institutions that say they plan to launch more than 10 new online programs in the coming years already have more than 20 such programs.
4. Though fully-online institutions often claim students do not need to have any in-person meetings or campus visits, some do include face-to-face requirements. Thirty-seven percent of surveyed schools say face-to-face meetings are not required, 16 percent say they require occasional face-to-face sessions, and 14 percent say face-to-face sessions are voluntary. Another 32 percent say requirements vary by program.
5. The top five most important or innovative online learning technologies, according to the survey, are a learning management system, anti-plagiarism and assessment integrity tools, audio/visual conferencing, lecture/video capture and management, and online assessment and proctoring.
6. Chief online officers would most like to adopt adaptive learning, learning analytics, student support dashboards, simulations/game-based learning, and virtual/augmented reality.
7. Half of all survey respondents say they have experienced or they anticipate major technology changes for their fully-online programs.
8. The most common motivation for a technology change in online learning programs is to improve the student experience and boost student success. Other reasons include improving the faculty experience, overcoming limitations of current technology, experimenting with new solutions, and to comply with regulations.
9. Chief online officers are less likely to use alternative providers, such as edX or Coursera, or coding bootcamps, as admissions pathways or to fulfill certain course requirements. Twenty-two percent said alternative provider alliances are under consideration, and 39 percent said they would not consider such partnerships.
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