The institutional research and standards consortium Quality Matters, along with Eduventures Research, a division of the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, is publishing the second annual Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE2) Report, focused on the US Higher Ed universities and colleges.
In its second year running, CHLOE2 reports that 13% of undergraduate students are completing a fully online program, and 28% of graduate students, as of fall 2016. The trend continues upward and most institutions are investing deeper into online learning options. As usual, regulation lags behind, but the government is also advancing its efforts to track and regulate the digital transition.
CHLOE2 identifies several trends, but when it comes to the intent and sources of the innovation efforts, a correlation appears. Ideas to try the online space originating from teachers tend to evolve into blended initiatives, whose results determine the level of support they will receive from the organization for a “deeper” online commitment. Conversely, when the idea for a new program comes from upper management, it is more likely that a fully online program arises. Coincidence? Staying tuned to the evolution of digitization initiatives, and their sources, might give us conclusive evidence.
Other interesting findings from CHLOE2:
More online students across the board. Enrollments increased in more than 50% of institutions, reaching as high as 65% in the case of 4-year public programs.
Online programs are revenue generators. Controlling for type and size, online programs generate net positive revenues for the majority of organizations. On average, 45% of respondents consider this to be the case, while for 18% it is still a net cost.
Higher tuition for offline programs can offset some of its early risks. Even though 74% reported no difference, it is more likely that online programs have higher tuition than in-person, than the opposite scenario. 23% reported higher online tuition compared to 18% with higher in-person. When asked why, the most common answers were marketing, startup infrastructure costs, and program developments.
Investments in instructional design teams remain timid. With the exception of large and for-profit organizations, the share of faculty involved in remunerated, team-based design activities remains in the single digits. Teams average 10 members for medium-sized schools (1 to 7.5 thousand students) and less than 6 for smaller institutions.
Not a fan of blends. Close to 50% of the respondents say they are committed to fully online programs, while less than 15% give “somewhat” or “much” more preference to blended learning.
CHLOE2 boasts a sample size 75% larger than the first CHLOE in 2016. It surveyed 182 Chief Online Officers or the person overseeing online program development and management at the institutions, mostly public universities and colleges offering 2- (55) and 4-year (61) programs, as well as private, 4-year program institutions (59). 7 for-profit organizations were also included.