In reviewing a recent OBHE report on the state of global online higher education, two things appear clear upfront: online programs have been unable to deliver on either significantly reducing the costs nor the time to complete a degree, both of which looked promising and feasible 15 years ago. What then seemed like the dawn of a revolution has settled into an evolutionary process, reflecting, on the one hand, the sector's conservatism and resistance to change, and on the other, that mere technology isn't a silver bullet. The US market continues to be at the forefront of this evolution, with 15% of its university students enrolled in fully online programs.
Our experience in the field of international higher education indicates that if well done--that is, abiding by the standards of quality that can lead to successful learning outcomes--online higher education is not inexpensive. Vast know-how, time and material resources must go into designing, developing, marketing, delivering and assessing new online programs. In addition to the specialized and qualified human capital required, new program development requires a technological underpinning that adds up, specially if the chosen model involves licensing software. And after all the investments made in developing and setting up the new online programs, university administrators face the dire reality that the cost of teaching simply can't be eliminated. Surprisingly, many new entrants into the industry just seem not to understand this.
Looking ahead, the likely scenario is one in which blended and hybrid programs will continue to grow and complement traditional program delivery. Thoughtful program design and smart use of technology should bring positive spillover effects on revenue generation, reputation, positioning, quality and internationality. At GRG Education we are ready to assist you with market and competitive analyses, program design and development, strategic partnerships for technology and internationality. Contact us to discuss your needs.