Ten years ago, it was risky for a university to go online. Educational technology was primitive and expensive. No one knew if students would embrace online degree programs, especially at full tuition, and universities worried that going online might hurt their reputations, linking them in people’s minds to sub-prime education.
Today, it’s risky NOT to go online. Within a few years, half of the graduate students in the U.S. will be studying online, and, given great advancements in learning technology, the best online programs will have more to offer than typical classroom programs.
Noodle Partners seeks to build world class programs:
World class in the quality of the educational experiences they provide. World class in the support students receive when they are dealing with problems ranging from a forgotten password to a serious scheduling problem. And world-class in the ease with which they help students achieve their career goals.
Defining Online Success
Each university sets its own strategy & goals. However, we believe the following criteria for online success are universal across higher education:
Excellence: Your online programs must be as rigorous as your very best campus-based programs. This requires coupling curricula created by your faculty with the most effective methods of online delivery. As the number of online programs increases, competition for technical and instructional design excellence intensifies; programs that were cutting-edge five years ago now lag behind.
Empiricism: Online delivery allows you to collect useful data on student recruitment, engagement, academic achievement and even success in the job market after graduation. This allows for early intervention and continuous improvement in your offerings.
Scale: Building a great online program is expensive, which is why many niche programs have failed. We believe most programs should aspire, over time, to enroll at least 100 new students per year. That threshold is based on data suggesting thoughtful scale dilutes neither quality nor the perception of quality. Enrolling 100 or more students multiplies scheduling options, allowing students to participate in synchronous sessions regardless of lifestyle or time zone. Larger programs produce more data that can be used to improve outcomes. And scale yields a significant revenue surplus that can be used for faculty advancement, research, and scholarship. These investments lead to improvements in teaching and research, in student engagement and satisfaction, in diversity and — consequently — in the rankings of your institution overall.
Autonomy: An effective digital strategy must preserve each client’s autonomy in such areas as curriculum development, faculty hiring and admissions. We head caution to those considering partnership options that seek to reduce your administrative and academic controls.
Affordability: As more high-quality programs come online, those with a high cost structure are at risk. Technology should, as it has always done in other sectors, reduce the net cost of higher education.
Agility: Within five years, the distinction between online and on-campus programs will have faded. The leading programs will allow students to mix and match modalities, subject to space limitations. Universities offering such programs will have enormous cost, quality and marketing advantages over those which isolate online programs in silos.