Higher Education in the Digital Age

By William G. Bowen; Kelly A. Lack | Go to book overview

APPENDIX: THE ONLINE LEARNING LANDSCAPE

Contours

At one end of this highly variegated landscape is an extremely large number of relatively straightforward online courses that provide an assortment of instructional materials on the web, often including videos, practice problems, and homework assignments. These courses (and some entire degree programs based on them) are usually institution-specific and built on learning management systems; they can be aimed at students in residence, distance learning populations, or both. They usually carry credit and are offered by both for-profit universities such as the University of Phoenix and a wide variety of nonprofit educational institutions. Some such courses in the nonprofit sector—not all of them entirely or even mostly online—have been created with the assistance of the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) through its course-redesign initiative, which itself involves different models of online instruction.74

According to a January 2013 report by the Babson Survey Research Group, the Sloan Consortium, and Pearson, about one in three college students now takes at least one online course (compared with about one in ten in fall 2002, the first year the survey was administered), and whereas total enrollments in higher education declined between fall 2010 and fall 2011, online enrollments grew about 9 percent during that time period.75 Indeed, the current spread of online offerings is dizzying. During one week in August 2012, I came across announcements of online initiatives by the University of Florida system, a Seminole tribe program also in Florida (the Native Learning Center), University of Kansas, Utah Valley University, and a number of HBCUs whose activities were reported by the Digital Learning Lab of Howard University. (Websites are the best way to learn about these, and other initiatives too numerous even to mention

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