Macro-Level Barriers to the Rejuvenation of Online Enrollment Growth

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The core issue in overcoming barriers is for stakeholders to balance pressures of competition in attracting students with the academic quality of an online degree.


Dr. Meine holds the academic rank of professor, is a member of the TROY Public Administration graduate faculty and the recipient of the Troy University 2011 Wallace D. Malone Distinguished Faculty Award. He has served TROY for over 20 years in a number of roles including Academic Director of TROY's Atlantic Region; Department Chair for TROY's Master of Public Administration program and eight years as the Regional Director of TROY's former Florida and Western Regions which included teaching sites in eight states and served over 4000 students in multiple undergraduate and graduate programs. In that position he also led the dramatic expansion of TROY's online offerings before resigning in 2007 to return to full time teaching.

Extended Abstract

Presenter Credentials: For more than 15 years we have been heavily involved in online education, not only as instructors (at the graduate level in Public Administration and at the undergraduate level in Sociology) but also as senior-level administrators with oversight for online courses and programs at Troy University. As examples of our work, Fred, a long standing member of Sloan/OLC, managed TROY's early Internet-based distance learning efforts, to include growing annual online enrollments from fewer than 200 to more than 17,000 in the space of just five years, and Tom having had supervisory responsibilities for TROY's online initiatives while serving as the academic dean for University College (now Global Campus).

The Unique and Frequently Overlooked Involvement of the United States Military: Such as providing significant and reliable revenue, intense competition, increasing demands on educational institutions (to include an emphasis on expediency of delivery, experiential credit, etc.) and even recently instituting sanctions against one of the most prominent purveyors of online education to both military and civilian personnel.

The Ironic Impact of Intense Competition: While it was the intense competition between the military services for new recruits that provided the pivotal financial incentives that enticed even the most prestigious of American colleges and universities to participate in the arena of online education, there is reasoned speculation that the ongoing and escalating competition between colleges and universities for a larger market share of the adult learner demographic is resulting in what may quickly become a saturation of a lucrative academic marketplace

The Unrelenting Mandate for Academic Integrity: Without question, the core issue for all of the organizational stakeholders is balancing the extreme pressures of competition in attracting students with the academic quality and pragmatic utility of a degree obtained via Internet-based courses. While demonstrating compliance with Regional Accreditation or the arguably less stringent National Accreditation standards may suffice, conforming to the rigorous standards of Professional Accreditation Associations such as AACSB and NASPAA may become a significant component in the solving the crucial academic integrity and quality issues.

Session Details: Following a presentation of the three substantive topics summarized above, with an emphasis on the unique interrelationship between them. We believe that our presentation will generate a productive and spirited discussion among the session attendees to include, at our direction, their contributions regarding not only the issues and concerns highlighted in the presentation; but, hopefully, new insights as to the macro level causes of the leveling of the online enrollment growth and the potential pressures on academic rigor created by competition for a potentially stagnating student population. The intended result is a discussion of potential solutions to what may become an increasingly problematic trend in Internet-based education.