- A majority of surveyed chief online officers predict the undergraduate experience will feature at least some online elements by 2025, according to the CHLOE 7 Report, the latest in a series of annual polls tracking trends in online education.
- Almost 45% of respondents expect the undergraduate experience will be primarily on-campus, with some online elements, for traditionally aged students. Meanwhile, around 40% say it will balance between in-person and virtual components.
- In comparison, roughly one-third of chief online officers predict the graduate experience will be split between online and on-campus elements. A similar share expects it will be primarily online. Almost no leaders anticipate the undergraduate or graduate experience won't have online elements by 2025.
The CHLOE 7 Report, from research and consulting firm Eduventures and quality assurance organization Quality Matters, reveals how attitudes toward online education have changed since the coronavirus began to spread and as restrictions have subsequently subsided. Although the survey indicates a growing interest in online education, most chief online officers didn’t envision fully online education as the future for either undergraduate or graduate students.
“They were so clear that the pandemic really had accelerated this shift, but it was hybrid rather than online that was emerging as the way forward,” said Richard Garrett, chief research officer for Eduventures and one of the report’s authors.
The survey fielded online responses from chief online officers in January and February. Results are based on 244 complete responses and 67 partial responses.
The report indicates higher education leaders are weighing the best ways to convey content when determining course modalities, rather than prioritizing convenience, Garrett said.
“There’s a growing acknowledgment that no one delivery mode has all the answers,” he said.
The results also indicate many institutions have mature online operations. The majority of chief online officers said all online services — including advising, tutoring and student recruitment — were run mostly or fully in house rather than outsourced.
The vast majority of chief online officers — 95% — said student financial aid and faculty recruitment were mostly or fully run in house. Proctoring services, on the other hand, were the most likely service to be outsourced, followed by market research and program marketing.
Only 18% of chief online officers said they contract with an online program management company, or OPM, for a bundle of services. These companies help colleges launch and run online programs by offering various services, such as student recruitment, course design and faculty development.
Around two-thirds of respondents with OPM contracts said they had a revenue-share deal, in which they pay a cut of their tuition revenue in exchange for the company’s services. Lawmakers and policy advocates have increasingly questioned whether these arrangements comply with federal laws designed to prevent aggressive recruiting practices.
The remaining third of respondents said they contracted with OPMs on a fee-for-service basis.
OPMs offering revenue-share deals will likely continue to find a market with well-branded institutions without a lot of online experience, Garrett said.
“But for maybe more ordinary schools with quite a lot of online experience, I think fee-for-service looks more and more attractive,” he said.
Almost all chief online officers said their institution had adopted quality assurance standards for online courses and programs. However, 55% of respondents said periodic reviews of online classes were voluntary. Another 5% said they didn't have them. Similar shares of chief online officers said the same of reviews for new or revised online courses.
Garrett suggested that institutions take a risk-based approach, where they steer their quality assurance resources to the courses where problems are cropping up with student satisfaction and outcomes.
“We’ve got to say, ‘Let’s have signals that will warn us of potential problems, let’s then have resources to deal with those problems,’” Garrett said. “But otherwise, let’s foster trust, professional judgment, consensus building.”