Leaders in digital learning and demographic computation

How will colleges and universities adapt to the accelerating numerical decline of traditional college-age cohorts?

Nathan Grawe’s projections indicate that within seven years, the pool of high school graduates is expected to shrink by 15%. The news is particularly grim for schools in the Northeast and the eastern half of the Midwest, with expected declines of 20-25%.

When demographic headwinds are combined with other trends, such as the continuing decline in public funding and increasing levels of institutional costs and the growth of new online competition, the future economic viability of a large number of colleges and of universities seems to be in doubt. While the postsecondary ecosystem is likely to adapt, transitions driven by macro-demographic / economic / political forces will be painful for many colleges and universities.

Where does the field of digital learning fit into the difficult future of many colleges and universities? What role could digital learning leaders on campuses working in the school most affected by these trends play in contributing to the economic resilience of their institutions? What role can people in digital learning play if asked to sit at strategic institutional tables?

There are likely many areas where digital learning experts can contribute to planning around institutional economic resilience. Here are two.

N ° 1: Transition of master’s degrees from residential to online

Every school with a master’s degree is at some stage in the process of bringing these programs online. With the exception of a very small number of elite programs, the full-time residency master’s model is in decline. The question does not appear to be whether master’s programs will go online, but how they will.

If school leaders are bringing in digital learning experts on campuses to implement decisions already made about the online transition, they are bringing them in too late. Campus digital learning experts should be included early on in discussions about the future of graduate programs. This issue again raises the question of PMSs and their role in bringing campus programs online.

Whatever role an OPM might play in a particular school, we suggest that representatives of online program management companies speaking with campus leaders without digital learning people in the room is a mistake. . OPM companies can be very convincing. It is quite possible to agree on an action plan before consulting the expertise of local digital learning specialists.

Leaders in digital learning on campus will be able to assess the resources, options, and addictions involved in moving master’s programs from residential to online.

The best case scenario may be to intensify the transition to online graduate programs using existing local people and resources. Schools that partner with OPM providers can have problems if they try to grow too quickly.

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times on the issues that the University of Southern California is currently facing due to the rapid growth of online master’s programs with the OPM 2U should serve as a caveat. It’s not that the OPM option is always a bad option. In some cases, working with a partner makes sense. Instead, the OPM’s decision should not lead to planning for the transition to going live. Working with a partner is one way to make this transition online, but there are other ways.

Experts in digital learning on campus are in the best position to assess the pros and cons of different approaches to moving to online programs at their institutions, and to present these scenarios as options for campus leadership.

# 2: mix up undergraduate programs

Too often online education and residential education are presented as opposing options. The reality is that residential and online learning exist on the same spectrum. Asking whether a program should remain residential or go live is really not the right question. A better question to ask is how the school could better meet the needs of its students while playing on its strengths and aligning with its overall mission.

The goal should never be to go online. Rather, the goal should be to create programs that create shared value for students and the school. Achieving shared value will often require schools to move away from the educational status quo. Shifting from a purely residential model to one that incorporates elements of e-learning can address many of the challenges facing students today.

Many students still want the privacy and structure of face-to-face learning. But these same students can also thrive in environments where some of the educational interactions are shifted online. Sitting in a physical classroom for three hours a week for an entire semester can be difficult for students with other work and family obligations. Undergraduates, traditional and non-traditional, may best thrive in a blended model, which incorporates intensive one-on-one coaching and support with flexible online options.

The move from residential to blended learning will also free up classroom and lab space, allowing schools to schedule more face-to-face lessons when students want to be on campus. The most demographically and economically disadvantaged colleges and universities may need to conserve their resources by drastically reducing the number of classroom buildings they maintain and support. Reducing a university’s physical footprint does not mean that the number of students the school serves must decrease. Or even that the school must give up its commitment to providing an intimate, rigorous and supportive residential educational experience.

Instead, the type of face-to-face interaction that faculty and students enjoy may change. Residence learning may become more intense, while the overall educational mix may evolve into one that balances the benefits of face-to-face and online learning.

Regardless of the path forward, digital learning leaders on campuses should be key partners in thinking about ways in which undergraduate education can be reimagined. The upcoming demographic calculation will force schools to rethink how they design and manage all of their educational programs, including existing residential undergraduate degrees.

Digital learning experts should be at the table to explore all options to maintain the alliance of institutional mission with economic resilience in the era of scarcity.

If you are an expert in digital learning, what role do you play in this conversation?

Source link