Online Learning Challenges Educational Ecosystem

08/20/13   |  
Dani Damaske
With the buzz surrounding MOOCs and the role of online modalities in learning, the path to education has become more diverse and competitive.  Institutions must offer a variety of scholastic opportunities to meet the demands of ever-changing audiences.
More and more adult students are juggling employment and family with school.  Part-time enrollment is on the rise, and to accommodate these hectic schedules, flexible course offerings are a must.  The student mix is evolving as the adult learner becomes more mainstream.
Younger populations, who might have previously been targeted as the ‘traditional’ undergraduate student, are now more comfortable with online learning.  Where it makes sense, higher education establishments should proactively plan and strategize as to the best avenues to tap into the enrollment growth potential in this sector.
Just as technology and trends change and adapt, so must our educational systems.  “MOOCS are a pathway,” says PlattForm CEO Michael Platt. “While no one actually knows the destination, what we do know is that education will never look the same and that online delivery will be a major component.” 
Unlike the benefit of the MOOC model, a barrier to accessible education for all is the skyrocketing cost of tuition. “But, the value proposition, grounded in the expected return on investment in higher education, remains strong,” explained Rob Lytle, Parthenon Group.  Affordability is central to the ideal higher learning in America, and while some will pay for an elite degree from a reputable institution, most are afraid of taking on debt in this tough economic climate. 
As learning institutions are called upon to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to meet employment demands, the opportunity lends itself to adaptation and forward-thinking. Though the effect of the MOOC in this industry has yet to be determined, continual focus on improving delivery methods and outcomes will better equip the post-secondary educational system to ensure student success.  How is your institution challenging the status quo in today’s changing landscape?