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Online learning leaders believe it's rarely done completely face-to-face

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Most people agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the trajectory of online learning forever. But the question is to what extent and how it is discussed.

According to the “Changing Landscape of Online Education 2022” (CHLOE for short) study released today, Chief Online Officers (COOs) expect that by 2025 most undergraduate and graduate students’ academic trajectories will be significantly online We expect it to feature components. Conducted by Quality Matters, a non-profit organization focused on ensuring quality online education, and his Eduventures, a research and advisory group, the study asked the Chief Online Officer to coordinate online learning at colleges and universities. defined as the key official responsible for

These officials predict that technology-enabled learning will play a much more central role in the near future than university presidents have responded. Inside Higher Ed’s Survey of College and University Presidents Last spring, many assumed that in-person learning would continue to rebound in the years to come.

Bayview Analytics Director Jeff Seaman said: CHLOE does research, but does its own research on technology in education. “But the overall trend we’re seeing is [in the CHLOE survey] Consistent with more general research. ”

Chief Online Officers don’t expect all-online education to go mainstream. They see a hybrid future where by 2025 both fully face-to-face and fully online students will be outliers. Instead, most students take classroom-based courses with a significant digital component, or classes delivered primarily online with a residential component. .

“The public may see [higher ed learning options] Instead, the COO expects most students to mix face-to-face and online courses and programs in various ways. format.

“COOs are more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of purely online learning because they are closer to the reality of online learning, closer than most people,” said study co-author Richard Garrett. increase. The COO respondent expects student demand for online learning to increase in the next few years, albeit at a slower pace than observed during his first two years of the pandemic.

This contrasts with what the university president predicted. Inside higher education A survey conducted earlier this year. The president reported that he expects face-to-face learning to recover from 64% of all classes at each institution in the spring of 2022 to 68% next spring.

In that survey, a majority (84%) believed that parents and students were unwilling to pay as much for online learning as they did for face-to-face learning, and this reflects their optimism about the trajectory of online learning. may be affecting Similarly, the principal’s preference for face-to-face learning and prejudice against online learning may also play a role. For example, while all presidents rated in-person courses as “good” or “excellent,” about one in five (22%) rated online courses as “fair” or “bad.” Did.

New definition of “hybrid”

Few traditional-age undergraduates are expected to study exclusively face-to-face (4%), according to the Chief Online Officer. Even fewer (2%) study exclusively online. Among graduate students, few (1%) expect to study exclusively face-to-face, and a minority (9%) expect to study exclusively online. At each end of the course offering continuum are fully online and fully face-to-face options. Between these two extremes are various hybrid options.

“Hybrid is just a convenience term and doesn’t really define what it is. That’s it,” said Garrett.

The study defines a hybrid course, also known as a “blended” course, as one where “the majority of the course is online and the remainder is in-person”. In this confusing middle ground, students may choose web-enhanced face-to-face, online asynchronous, online synchronous, or multimodal courses (such as courses taught face-to-face and online).. For example, in the multimodal category, hyflex courses offer the option of attending each class session in person or online. Still, the definition of “important” may vary depending on state guidelines, institution policy, or instructor preferences.

“You’re making a religion-based argument that ‘this is a better definition,'” Seaman said. “We are talking about academics. This is their job.”

However, the discussion is not only about semantics. Garret noted that institutions are now asking deep questions about the value of different modalities.

“Why are these modes of delivery not just popular or convenient or fashionable, but the right delivery for what they are trying to achieve in their particular field, these students, and their career goals? Mode?” asked Garrett. “It’s an opportunity for the future.”

The COO of the CHLOE study expressed nuanced views on the agency’s ability to realign its strategies and priorities as it navigates a potential pivot to a more blended format. On the one hand, they expressed optimism about a slight increase (17%) in his support staff online, including instructional designers, educational technologists, advisors and coaches. Also, more institutions are centralizing online services and integrating them with on-campus services. This is in line with their vision of the future.

However, the COO expressed concern that institutions are not providing students with the proper orientation and training to succeed in online learning. Most universities (84%) provided independent orientation for their students, but few required it. (Of public two-year, public four-year, and private four-year schools, less than 25% of schools require orientation, and public four-year institutions are the lowest in this category.) ranked in.)

Institutions defined as “low online” in the survey (those with fewer than 1,000 students online) have made progress in providing more faculty support to make online courses available but a small percentage (10%) have not yet provided support. This includes medium-sized online schools with no support (schools with 1,000 to 7,500 online students) and high-level online schools with all faculty support (schools with more than 7,500 online students). ) in contrast to

Teacher training to recognize and respond to student mental health issues had both bright spots and dark spots in the study. About a third (32%) of institutions have expanded teacher training in this area. However, about a quarter (27%) still do not offer such training.

This adds nuance to previous research on students. About a third (35%) of students reported that their mental health was better than before at the end of 2021, according to a Student Voice survey, but the majority (60%) are still suffering. . Inside higher education and College Pulse, supported by Kaplan.

“The scale, the commonality, the suddenness of it all,” Garrett said of the collision of online learning with the pandemic over the past two years. “If online students cannot come to campus, we cannot tolerate the situation of online students who have a very different mental health infrastructure,” Garrett said, not being addressed before COVID-19. It suggests that the student’s mental health needs suddenly became mission critical for him. “We are seeing the delay.”

The CHLOE survey also sheds light on quality standards for online courses and programs. On the bright side, nearly all survey respondents (96%) said their institutions have quality standards for online courses. However, only half require all asynchronous online courses to meet these standards, and more than half (66%) lack processes to ensure compliance. “Voluntary review and adherence to standards is the principle,” the authors wrote in the executive summary of the study. This may reflect the decentralized, collaborative working culture of higher education institutions.

“We know from research, and anecdotally, that top-down management stick approach doesn’t work,” Simnich said. “Quality isn’t about ticking boxes…face-to-face, as a colleague, he has more of a system of quality peer reviews.”

Seaman agrees that quality assurance is an issue, but it is not unique to online or hybrid courses.

“I am worried [the lack of quality assurance in online courses] At least as much for face-to-face courses,” Seaman said.

The COO, President, and Student surveys above were all conducted in the past year, but at various points in the past year. That is, the results may have been influenced by the rise and fall of various his COVID-19 variants and other developments.

“It was difficult to get an accurate pulse because the pulse was changing,” Simunich said.