While public and private institutions have chosen different strategies on online education, academic officials in both camps face the same challenges with getting faculty members on board with the efforts, according to new research conducted by the Learning House, Inc., of members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges.
The findings, detailed in two separate reports, show that public institutions continue to be the driving force when it comes to offering fully online programs. Nearly half of the surveyed AASCU member institutions, or 48 percent, said they offer five or more such programs, while an equal number of CIC member institutions reported they don't offer a single one.
The independent institutions are unlikely to close the gap in the coming years. Asked to list their top priorities in the next two years, only 23 percent of respondents picked creating fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. Still, the report notes that "Even among institutions that do not offer any fully online programs now, interest is strong, and across all degree types." For example, the survey suggests these institutions are more likely to consider hybrid programs. About one-third of respondents listed that as a priority -- the second most popular item after increasing international student enrollment.
Officials at public institutions also placed a heavy emphasis on international students, but many of their priorities appear to reflect the fact that their institutions have already established more robust online offerings than their independent counterparts. Fully online certificate programs are on the agenda for 41 percent of AASCU members, and while about two-thirds of those respondents already provide support services for online students, another 33 percent plan to do so in the next two years.
Although online programs are more prevalent in public institutions than in private ones, lack of acceptance among faculty members continues to be prevalent. More than half of respondents in AASCU and CIC member institutions said they still encounter that kind of hostility. Both groups still pointed to the time and effort it takes to teach online as the most common barrier they face.