Why should colleges and universities prioritize online education? Together, we could probably think of many reasons.
A partial list might include:
- Responding to student demand for flexibility
- Enhancing educational accessibility
- Meeting the needs for workforce development
- Building organizational capacities for institutional instructional resilience
- Enhancing institutional financial sustainability by creating new sources of revenues
- Growing institutional brand awareness
What else would you add to this list?
Of all the reasons why a school might consider investing in online education, I would put advancing learning first on the list.
Here are 15 ways online education acts as a vehicle to advance learning for students, professors and institutions.
- Learning how to learn in digitally mediated environments. (Which aligns with how lifelong professional learning will occur.)
- Developing skills in time management and self-directed work.
- Collaboration and communications skills, specifically on digital platforms. (Again, aligning with the future of work.)
- Making the transition from passive consumers of learning to active participants in constructing their knowledge.
- Enhancing a range of analytical skills that are prioritized in online courses and which match up to the demands of professional employment.
- Opportunities to collaborate with learning designers in the course design process.
- Exposure to core instructional design and learning science principles in the course development and teaching process.
- Experience working with a team of educators in the course development and teaching process.
- Shifting from a model of teaching as information delivery to one that prioritizes coaching and continuous presence and feedback.
- Moving from summative to formative assessment, as high-stakes exams are complemented by frequent low-stakes quizzes designed for learning.
- Creating robust infrastructure for digitally mediated teaching and learning -- essential for academic continuity in whatever the next black swan disruption (extreme weather, pandemic) will be.
- Prioritization of student care and well-being, as online learning can allow institutions to push past a scarcity mind-set around academic success.
- Enhanced ability to collect and act on student outcome data to support student success (learning analytics).
- New capabilities in shifting student life and support services from solely physical to complementary digital platforms and services.
- Opportunities to support professors in disciplined experiments to evolve teaching methods to align with learning science (learning innovation).
What would you add to this list of how online education advances learning?