Four Years of CHLOE Data: What We've Learned About Online Education

Concurrent Session 7
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Brief Abstract

Four years of CHLOE (Changing Landscape of Online Education) surveys have deepened our understanding of current practices and trends in online learning, including issues of leadership, governance, pedagogy, technology, finances, competition, student outcomes, and quality assurance. The CHLOE researchers discuss key findings and strategic challenges in dialog with the audience.


Dr. Ron Legon served as Executive Director of Quality Matters from 2006 until early 2016. While President of MarylandOnline in 2005-2006, Dr. Legon led the evolution of QM from grant support to self-support. Subsequently, he led the growth of QM from its MarylandOnline base to the more than one thousand member institutions it has today. Currently, Dr. Legon Executive Director Emeritus, Senior Adviser for Knowledge Initiatives, and co-director of the CHLOE (Changing Landscape of Online Education) Project. In his 10 years as Executive Director of Quality Matters, Dr. Legon broadened QM’s focus on quality online course design in higher education by leading the development of online design rubrics for secondary school, continuing and professional education, MOOCs, and publisher provided courses. Under his guidance, QM began to spread internationally, and QM’s scope in quality assurance grew to include program design, online teaching, learner outcomes, and support for the online learner. In 2008, the U. S. Distance Learning Association recognized Dr. Legon for Outstanding Leadership in Distance Education. In the past several years, he represented QM as a Thought Partner in the CBE Landscape Project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Legon also holds the title of Provost Emeritus from the University of Baltimore (UB), where he was Provost from 1992 to 2003. At UB he also served as Director of the Helen P. Denit Honors Program and Director of the MBNA e-Learning Center, where, in 1998, he led the development of the first AACSB accredited fully online MBA program.
Richard Garrett is Chief Research Officer of Eduventures Research, an NRCCUA company. Richard has 20+ years experience in higher education research, consulting, and policy. Richard is co-director of the CHLOE Project, a survey of online learning leaders conducted in partnership with Quality Matters. He combines his work at Eduventures with heading up the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a think tank focused on global developments in online learning and cross-border higher education. The Observatory is part of i-graduate and Tribal Group.
Eric E. Fredericksen is the associate vice president of online learning at the University of Rochester and associate professor in educational leadership at the Warner School of Education. A national leader in online education, Fredericksen provides leadership for the exploration of online learning initiatives across the University. Previously, he was the associate vice provost at the University, where he provided leadership and services that supported the academic and research missions of the University. Prior to the University of Rochester, Fredericksen served as the director of academic technology and media services at Cornell University. As a senior manager in Cornell Information Technologies, he helped craft Cornell's presence and direction in the use of contemporary technologies to support research, outreach, and teaching & learning both in and out of the classroom. Before Cornell, Fredericksen was the assistant provost for advanced learning technology in the Office of the Provost in the State University of New York System Administration, where he provided leadership and direction for all of SUNY's system-wide programs focused on the innovative use of technology to support teaching and learning. This included the nationally-recognized SUNY Learning Network - winner of the EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning and Sloan-C Awards for Excellence in Faculty Development and Excellence in Institution-wide Online Programming. It also included the SUNY Teaching Learning and Technology program and Project MERLOT, which were designed to complement the classroom with technology-supported instruction. Fredericksen was also a co-principal investigator and administrative officer for three multi-year, multi-million dollar grants on Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He was responsible for the fiscal management, strategic planning, policy development, faculty development, marketing & promotion, technical support center for faculty and students, and operations and technology infrastructure. He managed a distributed statewide staff of IT, administrative, instructional design, and faculty support professionals. Under his leadership, the program grew from two campuses offering eight courses to 119 enrollments to 53 campuses offering 2,500 courses to more than 40,000 enrollments in just seven years. He has also designed, developed, and taught online courses for the Department of Educational Theory and Practice in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Albany for the past 12 years. Fredericksen is active in national efforts, including EDUCAUSE, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative and the Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C). He was chair of the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning and previously served as chair of the Sloan-C Awards Program for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning. He also served on the advisory board for Enterprise Learning at NYU. In 2012, Fredericksen was elected to the board of directors for the Sloan Consortium and currently serves as the President of the Board of OLC. He was honored as a Sloan-C Fellow in 2013.

Extended Abstract

The CHLOE (Changing Landscape of Online Education) Survey has accumulated four years of data (2016 - 2019) on online learning practices across all sectors of U.S. higher education. Three annual reports have been published and a fourth will appear in April 2020. The survey covers a wide and expanding range of issues affecting the managment of online learning within institutions, including leadership, curriculum, pedagogy, technology, budgeting, quality assurance, student performance, competition and strategic planning.

The data are gathered through an annual national survey of Chief Online Officers. Such officers hold a variety of actual titles reflecting their relatively recent creation, as online learning has evolved into a mainstream activity in the majority of U.S. colleges and universities. The CHLOE investigators believe that COOs are the best-positioned individuals to grasp the big picture of online learning at their institutions, as captured in the list of CHLOE topics above. 

Previous CHLOE presentations at OLC and other major conferences have focused on particular topics and presented survey data in detail through detailed PowerPoint presentations. As a departure from this previous practice, the panel format proposed here will allow the investigators to summarize findings broadly to create a picture of current state of online learning in the U.S.

Among the issues to be discussed is the emerging pattern of online leadership at the institutional level, the dominance of fully online courses and programs and inattention to blended alternatives, continued reliance on pedagogy tied to the classroom model, the tension between innovation and continuity, the high impact but limited application of instructional design expertise, and  approaches to quality assurance of the different components of online learning success. The panel will also touch upon the varied models of online learning, including the targeted audiences, the scope of online programs,  competition within and between different sectors, and the strategic goals of institutions and institutonal leaders.

The panelists will each give brief opening remarks (5 minutes or less) covering different segments of the emerging picture of online learning, followed by dialog with audience members on the issues that capture their interest.