Campus Technology posted yesterday about the continuing evolution of online learning programs across different institutional cohorts. Regarding online delivery, there has been a decided shift towards asynchronous learning for larger cohorts (2,500+ online learners in program) with fully 95% of those programs delivered this way. By contrast, only 62% of smaller programs are asynchronous. As a result, one of the most popular engagement tools is threaded discussions [hey, we’ve had threaded discussions available in Junction for years!].
Regarding learning management systems, the author notes:
While the LMS plays a significant role in online programming, the report pointed to a distinct lack of references to “much-hyped innovations,” such as adaptive learning, competency-based education systems, simulation or game-based learning tools.
We’re speculating, but perhaps the challenge here is that many of the ‘much hyped innovations’ require control over the student experience for optimized instructor and student interactions so rarely find themselves embedded within the rigid walls of a LMS.
Beyond technology, course development and associated support is another key factor discussed where up to 80 percent of large programs employ instructional design expertise whereas at smaller programs instructional design support is a faculty option at 53 percent of institutions. Is all this high-value work being pushed outside campus walls to online program managers (OPMs)? That doesn’t appear to be the case:
The use of outsourcing for course design is rare. On average, fewer than a quarter of institutions have called on outside firms to develop their programs. Among the respondents for this first survey, “almost no partnerships” exist for community colleges; and only a handful of four-year institutions have them.
The report mentions that most services-oriented work done by third parties is related to marketing, enrollment management, and LMS support. Others include student support and retention-related services as options that are being outsourced.
Ultimately, online learning (also known as online education) is no different than campus-based learning in the sense that the primary intent is to support learning and drive superior outcomes. Further to this, online learning can also be used as a helpful extra next to campus-based learning. For example, a student who who is struggling with engineering only needs to type into google that they need engineering homework help. This gives the student the best chance at succeeding in their chosen subject. Fortunately, 45+ percent of survey respondents have quality metrics in place for faculty development, program design and course design.
To read more, please visit the article at Campus Technology linked below.
While a recent research project examined enrollment patterns for online courses, a new survey is looking at broader questions related to online programs, this one based on responses from ‘chief online officers.’ Produced by Quality Matters and Eduventures, the ‘Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)’ offers a ‘baseline’ examination of program development, quality measures and other structural issues.