Next Generation Online Learning: The Road from Periphery to Transformation
Concurrent Session 5 & 6 (combined)
This workshop, featuring original reserarch, an expert panel discussion and attendee Q&A, will assess the status of online higher education in the wake of Covid-19, and discuss prospects for online to do more to address core access, cost and quality challenges.
For the past two decades, online higher education in the United States has always been in the shadow of the traditional campus. To be understood and to make headway, online has both mimicked and transcended campus norms, depending on the audience and situation. Whether on quality, access, pedagogy, assessment, regulation, or cost, online has had to carve out a reputation and a market niche. But at most schools, online remained peripheral, in status if not significance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly pushed online into the higher education foreground. The delivery mode, in a basic “remote instruction” format, has afforded precious academic continuity for colleges and universities nationwide, and at least for Spring 2020 became default higher education. As schools wrestle with fall re-opening plans, which will inevitably include major remote components, old online learning debates about method, fit and value are playing out on a scale unimaginable just a few months ago.
This mainstreaming of online learning will accompany an unprecedented shake-up of the U.S. higher education system, as leaders attempt to navigate looming waves of mass unemployment, cratering state funding, and student ambivalence about the prospect of an online and/or socially-distanced college experience in a global pandemic. Fall 2020 could see record enrollment and/or record deferment, cuts and closures.
The fundamental question for online higher education leaders is: how can online help truly transform U.S. higher education, addressing systemic weaknesses the pandemic has heightened, not just limp through a crisis?
This session will explore what “transformation” might look like, and the realities and implications of fall 2020. The session will begin with a 20 minute research synthesis by Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer, followed by a panel discussion. The panelists are:
- Eric Fredericksen, Associate VP for Online Learning, University of Rochester
- Chris LaBelle, Interim Senior Director, Colorado State University Global
- Ron Legon, Executive Director Emeritus, Quality Matters
The panel discussion, moderated by Richard Garrett, will last for 30 minutes. The remainder of the workshop, 40 minutes, will be Q&A with attendees.
The research portion will draw lessons from three sources:
- CHLOE: Findings from the fifth annual CHLOE (Changing Landscape of Online Education) survey, a partnership between Quality Matters and Eduventures. The fifth survey, of Chief Online Officers at 300 U.S. colleges and universities, was conducted in May 2020, and focused on the remote instruction-online learning continuum, fall plans, and leaders’ sense of the changing status of online at their institution.
- Eduventures Adult Prospect Research findings. Eduventures will update its ongoing adult prospective student market research, with a survey in June 2020 and, given the dynamism of the situation, a follow-up in late summer/early fall. The objective is to gauge how the pandemic and its impact is shaping adult interest in postsecondary enrollment, undergraduate and graduate, credit and noncredit, and how this compares to pre-pandemic benchmarks. Relevant findings from Eduventures Survey of Admitted Students, conducted in June 2020 and focused on high school students, will also be cited.
- Eduventures Fall 2020 Enrollment Forecasts Report Series. To help institutions plan for the fall, Eduventures is working on a series of reports weighing mid-pandemic enrollment prospects for different groups of students and institutional types: traditional age undergraduates at 4-year schools, adult undergraduates at 4-year schools, community colleges, graduate students, and international students. Two of these reports are already published, and the remainder will appear over the summer.
By the time of the OLC Accelerate 2020 conference, in November, the fall semester will be well-underway, and coming to an end for schools that opt to start and finish early. This will be a good time to reflect on events, the standing of online learning, and where online leaders go from there.
Discussion topics, informed by the above research and panel and attendee experience, will include:
- Quality: How can online leaders evolve institutional culture to favor team-based course and program design, re-use of high quality third-party content and research-based pedagogy?
- Access: How can online leaders craft versions of online learning that boost rather than undermine learning success for non-traditional and access populations?
- Cost: How can online leaders institutionalize processes and norms that drive down and clarify rather than increase and cloud higher education costs?
- Scope: How can online leaders develop a more expansive idea of online learning that goes beyond academics to also encompass experiential learning and socialization?
- Model: How can online leaders partner with campus leaders to develop hybrid modalities that embody the best of in-person and online learning
Attendees will leave the workshop with a clearer understanding of how their institution's fall 2020 situation compares to peers and schools generally, the pros and cons of different coordinates on the remote learning-online learning-campus learning landscape from different perspectives, and examples of how online leaders are overcoming access, cost and quality challenges.