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A Formula for Increasing Enrollments Without Significantly Driving Up Costs?
August 26, 2010 - 8:34pm

"Restrictions on enrollments at community colleges, particularly, are among the factors that have driven students to for-profit institutions, where tuitions are significantly higher."
--from 3 Million and Counting, IHE 8/26/10

Ideas to Increase Enrollments Without Significantly Driving Up Costs:

  • Adopt the For-Profit Model of Course Design and Course Staffing: This involves separating out the course design from the teaching process. Learning design and subject matter expert teams create high quality courses that are used multiple times across the program. Instructors are rigorously trained and supported for course delivery.
  • Move to Hybrid Delivery Model: Increase the productivity of campus classrooms by dramatically reducing face-to-face (classroom) time and increasing online delivery. Hybrid courses retain the benefits of face-to-face classes for community building and opportunities for team exercises and active learning, while allowing more flexibility for the learner and increased classroom utilization.
  • Restrict Courses to 7 Weeks, Increase the Number of Terms: 7 weeks is plenty of time to complete a rigorous course. With a 7 week schedule, an academic year can have six terms, allowing more courses to be completed and more students to be enrolled.
  • Develop Courses on Open Source Learning Management Platforms Using Open Educational Content: Consumer tools and free online educational content can reduce costs while maintaining quality.
  • Decrease Student Attrition Through Learning Coaches: Offering more courses to more students does no good if the student drops out. A learning coach can devote her full attention to insuring that each student is progressing through the assignments and materials, and can devote extra attention to those students who are falling behind.

None of these are new ideas. This seems like the formula that the for-profits have been utilizing (minus the profits). Maybe someone can help me understand why institutions like community colleges have not adopted these methods wholesale.

What are the constraints that make it difficult to leverage technology to shift to this model? Or alternatively, is this shift taking place - but the formula is inadequate for increasing enrollments without increasing costs? Does this formula promise cost savings, while retaining quality, but in reality fail to deliver on either promise?


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