Online Learning Report: The Last of the Skeptics Capitulate

In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, Steve Kolowich divulged that finally, after years of skepticism, higher education’s elite academic institutions have decided that 1) online learning is here to stay and 2) it might not be so bad after all and 3) it’s going to be a big part of the future…everyone’s future.

These elite schools are getting into online learning in the following ways:

Free Online Courses For Everyone

Kolowish says, “MOOCs are the McMansions of online higher education — capacious, impressive-looking, and easy to supply to the masses once professors have drawn up the blueprints.” “Despite their flagging hype, MOOCs remain very popular. Top institutions will probably continue to build them.”

“Families who want to work with the architects directly are not opting for a sequence of free online courses instead of an exclusive residential program that ends with a degree. Even if the MOOCs lose money, wealthier universities can afford to take a hit — especially if it means increasing their visibility in valuable overseas markets.”

Does that mean you should MOOC too? While it may not be beneficial to list your MOOC on the larger networks (needle in a haystack sort of thing), it makes sense to make use of the smaller MOOC networks (or SMOOCs if you are being tongue-in-cheek). Edvance360’s MOOC360 network is available to all our clients and we actually have data that says smaller MOOCs have extremely high completion rates – as much as 40% more than some of the larger MOOCs. (See our blog for more information on MOOCs and to request your own. Additionally, see the HACS MOOC case study for completion information.)

Paid Online Courses For Professional Graduate Programs.

Elite universities are getting into the hybrid programs, offering academic coursework online in addition to the normal fieldwork required, which is perfect for answering the high demand in fields such as health care and education. Yale University unveiled a new master’s program for physician assistants, offered through its prestigious medical school. In 2011 it unveiled a similar doctoral program for nursing.

Kolowish says, “Many lesser-known players have grabbed big chunks of that market online by assuring prospective students that they can go back to school without upending their lives. Yale is not alone in its effort to claim its slice of the pie; graduate schools at the Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and others have also started offering online versions of their professional master’s programs.”

Online learning is perfectly suited to professional programs and master’s level programs (and above) where the “student experience” is not as sacrosanct as it is at undergraduate colleges. The appeal to mature, professionals looking to enhance their careers or enter a new trade is obvious, though Edvance360 has also seen an uptick in the less-prestigious schools offering online courses alongside regular hands-on programs for EMS, nursing, and other health-related fields.