Saturday, June 22, 2013

Traditional Colleges Collaborate for Online Education

Traditional colleges are seeking ways to develop their own online programs in an effort to cut costs and create more relevant programs that fit the lifestyles of their students. A consortium of universities called the Committee of Institutional Cooperation consists of 13 research colleges made up of the big ten universities in the U.S. It has met and presented a positional paper on possible efforts to develop their own online platforms. 

Some of the reasons beyond the economic need and decreased state funding is that they purchase products from third party vendors. There is a feeling that they are not in control of the platform and that they could develop something that better suits their needs. The decision to collaborate has not been finalized but they are moving in that direction. 

Their vision for online collaboration includes the following:

1.) Majority of members indicate that collaborative online learning would be of benefit to them.
2.) The CourseShare program where universities share courses that do not have high student attendance rates such as rare languages has significant benefits.
3.) To pursue a bigger and bolder online strategy that suits the needs of their population.

The need to follow non-traditional universities in online endeavors and extend opportunities has become apparent. The positional paper indicates that the U.S. ranks 13th out of the G20 in higher education and the failure of traditional colleges to keep pace has become concerning. The paper also indicates that in the future the fastest growing population will be the non-traditional students that traditional universities currently do not support well. 

The members recognize that there are advantages and disadvantages to online education just the same as there is within traditional face-to-face instruction. The largest factors in educational value variances are centered in the capabilities of the students. They cite student learning outcomes, motivation, engagement, satisfaction, confidence, social interaction, etc… as some of the biggest predictors of outcomes. 

The embracing of online education has been time in coming. New technologies are often considered disruptive and thwarted by established positions. Yet as these technologies develop they become adapted into larger organization and take on a new "normal". This normal lends perceived credibility to programs that were once deemed of less educational value. Research and experience has highlighted that different is not worse. With more experience comes better programs and collaborative learning processes.

You may read the CIC paper HERE

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