Academic journal article College and University

Recruiting and Serving Online Students at a Traditional University

Academic journal article College and University

Recruiting and Serving Online Students at a Traditional University

Article excerpt

There have been many drastic changes in higher education in recent years. State funding has decreased, leaving schools responsible for their own revenue growth and for balancing their budgets. Colleges and universities are closing departments and are no longer offering majors that are producing few or no graduates. Small colleges are closing , and some states are reducing redundancy by consolidating programs. The focus of this paper is on recruiting and serving online students at a traditional university. Literature reviewed includes articles relating to the quality of online programs, online pedagog y, academic rigor of online programs, and even how to convert a face-to-face course to an online course. This focus is the online program-the delivery of content-not the student. No research on strategic enrollment management and online education was found. The articles that inform this piece are new; online learning changes quickly.

To understand online learning, it is important to begin with the history of distance education within the traditional university. Current and future trends will be considered before the practical application and challenges of online education are discussed. Online learning has its origins in distance education, which Kentnor (2015) defines as "a method of teaching where the student and teacher are physically separated" (p. 22). Online learning is the most recent evolutionary state of distance education, and it is now mainstream.


Distance education began in the 18th century with correspondence courses that were conducted through the mail. Its objective was to create educational opportunity for those who did not have access to traditional options because of financial or geographical limitations. On March 20, 1728, Caleb Phillips placed an advertisement in the Boston Gazette offering shorthand lessons through correspondence. However, Isaac Pitman is known as the pioneer of distance education. He began teaching shorthand by correspondence in 1840 in Bath, England. In 1873, Illinois Wesleyan College became the first higher education institution to offer a degree program through correspondence. But it is the Chautauqua Movement of the 1870s that is credited with the acceptance of distance education through correspondence. The need for correspondence education grew as demand for college degrees-and as barriers to traditional education-increased. Inevitably, increased demand for distance education inspired growing concern about the quality of the education provided by such programs. In 1915, the National University Exten- sion Association was formed to develop standards in continuing education (Kentnor 2015).

The advent of the Industrial Revolution brought the next advance in distance education: the radio. The University of Wisconsin-Extension was founded in 1906, and in 1919, professors began an amateur wireless station that later became known as WHA, the first federally licensed radio station dedicated to educational broadcasting. Kentnor (2015) reports that "by the end of the 1920s, 176 educational institutions had broadcast licenses" (p. 24). But radio programs had limited success, and most were eventually discontinued.

Between 1932 and 1937, the University of Iowa began using television broadcasting for education. However, television courses for distance education were not well produced, and viewership waned. Because instructors of basic courses simply read their notes, it was difficult to keep viewers' attention (Kentnor 2015). By the 1970s, universities were offering courses through closed-circuit television (Baack, Jordan and Baack 2016). Later in the 20th century, the technological impact on distance education was the computer.


The University of Phoenix began using CompuServe in 1989; in 1991, when the World Wide Web was unveiled, it became one of the first institutions to offer online education via the Internet. The rapid growth of online education by traditional non-profit institutions did not begin until 1998, with the creation of NYU Online. …

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