Once a peripheral offering in higher education, online and distance education is becoming essential to the mission of many colleges and universities today. More and more vendors, also known as “Bundled Service Providers” (BSPs), are competing to cash in on the continued growth of online education in higher education. Services offered by the BSPs include market research, lead generation and marketing, admission counseling, course development and 24/7 technical support. Most BSPs charge on a revenue share basis where the vendor keeps 20% to 65% of the gross revenue for a course/program. One vendor, Academic Partnerships made $4 million from its share of tuition from Arizona State, over $10 million from Florida International University, and $18 million from Ohio University’s nursing program in 2012. (Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/05/31/nonprofit-colleges-should-be-wary-new-breed-profit-players-essay).
Some of the major players in this space include:
The eagerness of for-profits to enter the online education higher education market sounds very familiar. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, dot-coms and for-profits were jumping onto the distance learning bandwagon to launch new online programs. NYU Online, Virtual Temple, US Open University and Arizona Learning Systems were very popular until the dot-com bust which forced the closure of many of these new online ventures.
Some faculty members are beginning to push back on some of these partnerships. An October 11, 2013 issue of Inside Higher Ed, reported on a recent clash between faculty and administration at Rutgers about a partnership with Pearson. Faculty were concerned about intellectual property rights and academic freedom as well as sharing the revenue from tuition with an outside vendor.
I had an opportunity to meet John Sener at the Quality Matters conference in Nashville last week and purchased
a copy of his book, “The Seven Futures of American Education – Improving Learning & Teaching in a Screen-Captured World.” I just started reading the book and wanted to share a couple of interesting quotes from the book:
- Over the past 15 years, online education in the US has gone from zero to mainstream
- If the first era in the history of online education was focused on providing access, the 2nd era has the potential to be defined by improving quality — not just for online education but for all education
- Cybersymbiosis – irretrievable dependent on digital technologies (this isn’t a fad that is going to eventually fade)
John led a pre-workshop seminar at the conference about “using the seven futures as a framework to improve educational quality: a dialogue” and I was really impressed that he
stayed for the entire conference. I’m looking forward to reading more of his book.
This is an excellent video about the importance of quality course design in online courses from the student perspective. Visit the Quality Matters website for information about the Quality Matters Standards and Rubric.
8 Lessons Learned from Teaching Online from EDUCAUSE on Vimeo.
Some people are under the impression that online education is something new to higher education with the recent obsession with MOOCs, but “for-credit” online classes and degree programs have been offered for many years. This short video highlights the following 8 lessons learned from 2 experienced online educators. By the way, most of these strategies are also applicable to the face-to-face environment.
1. High-Touch is more important than high-tech
2. Establish Social Presence using Digital Storytelling
3. Use Technology Intentionally
4. The Power of External Resources
5. Make your Expectations Explicit
6. Fun, Playfulness and the Unexpected
7. Login Regularly
8. Personal Feedback
Interesting presentation titled the “Seven Futures of American Education.” The Sixth Future predicts that the 2nd era (the 1st era is access) of online education is improving quality – not just for online education, but for all education. I hope that the Sixth Future is realized and “Education Improves” because some of the other scenarios are more dystopian. My experience has been that when you ensure the quality of online education, traditional education also improves. This shift to quality assurance is long overdue in higher education. We need to demand that in addition to being content experts in their fields, ALL higher education faculty members are certified to teach, just like our K-12 instructors. I believe that online education has and will continue to be the main driver for improving the quality of teaching in higher education.
This presentation is based on John Sener’s book “The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning & Teaching in a Screen-Captured World.” The Seven Futures posits that we can improve education by “cyberizing” it which means we can use emerging technologies to improve educational quality.