In the fall of 2012 universities and colleges in Ontario submitted mandate statements to the Government of Ontario for review. While each statement is different, there was one consistent theme: a growing strategic commitment to seeing online learning as a central component of institutional strategy. Rather than being a marginal activity, online learning is seen as a critical feature for the future of the institution. Eighteen of the 21 universities and 21 of the 24 colleges see online learning in this way.
This mirrors developments in the United States. In 2012, 69% of academic leaders of US public and private post-secondary institutions saw online learning as mission critical for their organizations, a significant rise on previous year’s reviews (it was 50% in 2009). Given that online registrations
are growing at an annual rate of 10% and conventional registrations at between 1 and 2%, this is not surprising. Over six and a half million US college and university students take one or more online course as part of their program of studies each year.
Given the growing strategic importance of online learning, how can strategic intent be converted into action? More specifically, what roles can each category of influencer play in a college or university to make online learning truly successful?
These are important questions. While students show an increased satisfaction with online learning – it secures a satisfaction level in excess of that shown for face to face learning - only 30.2% of chief academic officers in the US believe that faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education - a rate which is lower than recorded in 2004.
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