Online Courses

Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement

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The current generation of digitally savvy students have been passively trained by years of social media, e-commerce and online entertainment to expect a high-level user experience in all their digital interactions, with no exception for their educational institutions.

In higher education, there are two categories relevant to digital transformation. The first relates to engagement, where what is known about a student is utilized to deliver relevant communications at the right time, in the right manner. Ideally that can be done across a number of channels, depending on the context, including chatbots, text messages, emails, mobile apps and more. The second category enables the first: a foundation of data where student information—gleaned through website clicks and visits, academic performance tracking as well as other sources—can be used to determine how and when that communication should occur.

A recent Forbes Insights executive brief, “Rising to the Challenge: Digital Transformation and Student Engagement in Higher Education,” sponsored by Pitney Bowes, touches on both categories and outlines practical examples of their application to improve the student experience.

Many educational institutions are now turning to customer experience firms to map the student journey and life cycle. That allows them to zero in on the moments when they can support student needs digitally by providing relevant information, and therefore deepen engagement. (Read More...)

Who Is Studying Online (and Where)

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Authored by

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The number of college students enrolled in at least one online course -- and the proportion of all enrolled students who are studying online -- continued to rise at U.S. institutions in the 2016 academic year, newly released federal data show.

The statistics, part of a major release of provisional data on enrollments, employment and other topics from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, provide the most up-to-date information on enrollments in online and distance education.

The overarching story is a familiar one: even as overall enrollment in postsecondary institutions stays flat (unlike recent numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, the federal data show enrollments staying roughly constant, not declining), online enrollments climb.

As a result, so, too, does the proportion of all students at institutions eligible to award federal financial aid who are taking at least one course at a distance, as seen in the table below.

The increased likelihood of being enrolled online is occurring at most levels and types of institutions in higher education.

Since 2014, the proportion of undergraduate students at Title IV-eligible institutions who are enrolled in at least one distance education course has risen from 27.1 percent to 30 percent in 2016, and the proportion of graduate students enrolled at least partially online has grown from 32.5 percent to 36.6 percent in 2016.

Community college students (30.9 percent) were more likely than undergraduates at four-year public institutions (29 percent) and four-year private colleges (25.6 percent) to be enrolled in at least one online course.

But more than two-thirds of the students taking at least one online course in 2016 were at public institutions, while roughly 18 percent were at private nonprofit colleges and 13 percent were at for-profit institutions. And the growth in the number of students taking at least one online course in 2016 was greater among public institutions than it was for private institutions, a change in the pattern of recent years. (Read More...)

Study: Over Six Million Students Now Enrolled In Distance Education

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Authored by Online Learning Consortium

The Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, conducted by the new Digital Learning Compass organization, reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 now tops six million. Growth, however, was uneven; private non-profit institutions grew by 11.4 percent while private for-profit institutions saw their distance enrollments decline by 9.4 percent. These and other findings were published today in a report titled, “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017.”

This report is the first in a series of publications from Digital Learning Compass, a new research partnership of the Babson Survey Research Group, e-Literate, and WCET. Digital Learning Compass partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, and Tyton Partners to produce this first report, which examines the trends and patterns of distance education enrollments among U.S. degree-granting higher education institutions. Additional publications in the Digital Learning Compass series will provide a detailed look at multiple facets of U.S. distance education.

“The study’s findings highlight yet another year of consecutive growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.  “This study and earlier reports from the Babson Survey Research Group have shown that distance education growth has a momentum that has continued, even as overall higher education enrollments have been declining.” (Read More...)

Building Community in Online Courses

Authored by Dr. Kathleen Stone, Western Governors University

In November, I presented at the AAACE annual conference on research I completed as part of an Ed.D in Higher Education and Adult Learning. My research explored how adult online students at a small rural community college described a sense of school community when completing online courses. I wanted to understand their perceptions of the presence of a sense of school community and what aspects they felt could contribute to successful completion of online courses. From this small qualitative case study, I found students did not perceive a sense of school community, yet they felt having a greater sense of school community would help them successfully complete online courses. What is school community and why look at this factor when exploring online course completion rates?

A sense of community in an online environment includes two distinct aspects: classroom community and school community. A sense of community in the online classroom has been the focus of much research in distance learning (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Lucking, 2004). However, less attention and research has been given to the culture and climate that makes up a school community in the online environment (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Liu, 2005). School community has two dimensions: social community and learning community. A school’s social community involves “spirit, cohesion, trust, safety, trade, interdependence, and a sense of belonging” (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). A school’s learning community consists of the feelings of learning community members regarding the degree to which they share group norms and values and the extent to which their educational goals and expectations are satisfied by group membership (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). (Read More...)

 

Online Education Trends in 2017

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By Jordan Friedman of US News

Online students: There's a lot in store for you in 2017.

In the past few years, more students enrolled in online courses, more organizations offered alternative credentials such as digital badges and nanodegrees and more employers accepted online degrees from job candidates.

[Learn what employers ask job applicants with online degrees.]

Here are five trends experts say students might see in online education in 2017.

1. Greater emphasis on nontraditional credentials: Companies in recent years have started offering credentials other than degrees to online learners, ranging from digital badges to showcase achievements, to various certificate programs that highlight skills.

In 2017, many experts predict, colleges and universities will become more involved in granting what are often referred to as "micro credentials." 

At universities, "I think there's going to be more focus on how to best serve individuals, whether they are new to education or whether they are returning professionals seeking different credentials or different learning experiences," says Karen Pedersen, chief knowledge officer for the Online Learning Consortium, a group that aims to improve online higher education worldwide.

The massive open online course, or MOOC, provider edX expects to launch more MicroMasters programs in partnership with universities worldwide, for example, a company spokeswoman says. Students complete a portion of a graduate degree through MOOCs and can then apply to finish the full curriculum on campus at a lower total cost.

The U.S. Department of Education is also in the process of reviewing federal financial aid opportunities for low-income students in some non-degree programs such as coding boot camps, through eight partnerships between universities and organizations.

2. Increased use of big data to measure student performance: Because online students complete their coursework virtually, course providers and universities are collecting data "in really kind of remarkable quantities," says Richard DeMillo, executive director of Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for 21st Century Universities, which tracks technology innovations in higher education.  (Read More...)

 

One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement

Authored by Casey Fabris of Chronicle of Higher Education

Conversations about the atomic bomb can go only so far among a classroom of 20-somethings. It’s hard for today’s students to imagine living in 1945, experiencing a world war, or, for most, serving in the military.

But bring alumni—with many more years of experience to share—into the equation, and class discussions can get a lot more interesting.

That’s what Karen Harpp is doing in her Colgate University course “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb.”

Next semester she will offer the course for a second time as a MOOC of sorts for Colgate alumni. It is not, strictly speaking, a “massive open online course” because it is not open to the public—only to alumni and others who make special requests to join.Read More…

CalArts’ Extended Studies Launches Online Portfolio Development Workshop

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Extended Studies launched an Online Animation Portfolio Development Workshop, designed for students who are interested in exploring Concept Design and Visual Development, and enhancing their college application portfolios.

In this workshop, students are encouraged to express their creativity in as many ways as possible. Each week, different illustration styles are examined for inspiration. Students will produce exaggerated character designs that can be used as concepts for future animations, 3D models, graphic novel ideas and gallery work. The students will draw from films to learn about visual composition and story telling. This course focuses less on making perfect drawings and more on giving students an open arena to explore and learn to love drawing while broadening creative ideation and output. Learn More...

 

The Andy Warhol Museum Announces Online Education Program

The Andy Warhol Museum and Tenlegs announced a new strategic partnership to host online Warhol-themed classes.

“The Warhol values the power of online tools to reach audiences and fans across the globe and is excited about bringing the expertise of its educators to new audiences, via the Tenlegs platform. This is a great way for us to bring Warhol’s legacy to his fans and other art students who might not otherwise be able to access our programming at The Warhol,” noted Nicole Dezelon, associate curator of education: resources and technology.

The first class in the series, titled Warhol’s Legacy in Contemporary Art, will be taught by Felipe Castelblanco, a multidisciplinary New Media artist with an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an artist educator at The Warhol since 2010. Over its six week run, this online course will examine Warhol’s role in contemporary art and how his legacy impacts business, politics and pop culture.

Warhol’s Legacy in Contemporary Art begins on January 20, 2014 and concludes on March 2, 2014. Additional Warhol-related courses, covering a diverse offering of topics and practices will be offered throughout 2014. All classes will take place online at Tenlegs.com using its collaborative online art education platform.

An Era of Scrutiny

Authored by Mark Nemec, PhD, President & CEO Eduventures

As colleges and universities start their fall sessions, President Obama’s plans for higher education need to be top of mind. Top of mind, not because his proposal will take immediate effect—hearings on the issue will take place sometime before 2015 and the President called for implementation by 2018; but rather because his August speech in Buffalo and its proposed policies fully signal what we in higher education have been anticipating: we are in an era of extra attention if not downright scrutiny. Read More...