“Online learning design is now a refined art, and universities must show they can produce high-quality courses at a reasonable cost,” writes in Times of Higher Education Geoff Webster, Managing Director at CEG Digital, the blended learning division of Cambridge Education Group.
- “To deliver the level of quality that both students and academics expect, and is provided by leading online programmes today, universities must be willing to invest substantial resources in development.”
- Blended learning has a higher rate of student satisfaction, outcomes and retention, but requires institutional capability and flexibility to deliver a high-quality face-to-face experience within the context of an online learning programme.
- Coming technological advances, such as adaptive content provision and virtual and augmented experiences will have their place in certain subject areas, but will add their own development and delivery overheads. As an institution invests in online, focusing in-house IT departments on what may start out as a small number of students can be a real challenge.
- Fortunately the twin engines of growth – domestic and international demand – should provide a sufficient body of students, with a breadth of subjects, levels and entry requirements.
- The key strategic questions are: how quickly can an institution get to market, can it produce and deliver programmes of the right quality and with the right cost base, and are these investments sustainable in the long term? Student expectations, learning design, delivery modes, technology choices and recruitment should be top of mind for vice-chancellors.