Opening New Doors: Using Online Distance Education to Attract (and Keep) New Students Comments at the UNL Luncheon for National Distance Education Week 2011 Mark L. Parker University of Maryland University College OVERVIEW • Yes, you can! • Lessons Learned by UMUC • The Power of Online DL • The Challenges • Parker’s Principles • The Big Questions for You • Q&A YOUR GOAL • 5,500 new UNL students by 2017 • And, this has to be accomplished in an environment characterized by: • Increased competition • Increased oversight & regulation • Rapid changes in technology • Economic uncertainty THE GOOD NEWS You can achieve your goal, because: a) It’s been achieved before, and b) You’re already doing a lot of the right things In fact, you can not only achieve your goal (attracting the new students) but exceed it (by retaining them and ensuring their success) UMUC’s EXPERIENCE • In FY 2006, total worldwide headcount was 84,188 • In FY 2011, it was 96,342 • Also note the following: • % Online of Total Enrollments in FY 2006: 59% • % Online of Total Enrollments in FY 2011: 74% LESSONS LEARNED? • Online distance learning is an enterprise function of the institution. • The demand for access to higher education opportunities continues to increase. • For the moment, online is the most powerful distance learning paradigm available to the academy. THE TRUE POWER OF ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING • Our online students are: • Median age = 32 y.o. • 58% Female • 46% Underrepresented Minorities • 35% African American • 14% Speakers of ESL/EFL • 50% (U/G) First-in-Family University Students • 92% Working at least P/T THE TRUE POWER OF ONLINE DISTANCE LEARNING Allows institutions to serve students who might otherwise be unable to participate in higher education • Working adults • Persons who don’t live within a reasonable commuting distance of a 4-year higher education institution • Including community college graduates THE CHALLENGES • Nature of online students themselves: • P/T, working, at a distance, varying levels of academic preparation, culturally diverse • Constant, rapid change: • Technology, oversight, the economy • Competition • Costs Parker’s Principles for attracting new students through the use of online teaching & learning: • Congruence with mission • Support services • Technology infrastructure • Institution-wide commitment • Realistic expectations Your success to date suggests you have these down cold. Parker’s Principles for keeping the students you’ve attracted (in other words, for retaining them): • Outcomes-focused courses/programs • Student engagement (with the curriculum & with the institution) • Ongoing innovation (technology and pedagogy) • Assessment/measurement leading to continuous quality improvement FOCUS ON OUTCOMES • What it is that students should know (or know how to do) upon completion of the course/program? • How are students demonstrating that knowledge/ability to faculty & administrators? • Have the outcomes and means of assessment been chosen with the characteristics of online students in mind? STUDENT ENGAGEMENT • Are students expected to be active in the learning process? • Do online students feel a connection with the institution (e.g. communication, advising)? • Do online students have access to the appropriate support services (e.g. writing center)? INNOVATION • Are you staying as close to the global technology environment as possible (e.g. mobile devices?) • Are you taking advantage of early- adopter faculty and staff? • Are you conducting research into effective online pedagogy & human- computer interaction? • Are you funneling the results back into practice? ASSESSMENT/MEASUREMENT • Are you assessing student learning outcomes (and using the results for quality improvement)? • Are you measuring rates of persistence and success (and using the results for quality improvement)? • Are you measuring the effectiveness of your support services? BOTTOM LINE? • It costs more to recruit a new online student than to retain an existing one. • We in the academy (and especially those of us in online distance ed) are under increasing scrutiny and pressure to demonstrate pedagogical and financial effectiveness. • We compete with organizations that may not hold to the same standards we do. AN OUTSIDER’S VIEW • UNL can achieve its growth goal. • You (in online teaching & learning) have the potential to make a significant contribution to the achievement of that goal. • Keep doing what you’re doing so well, and be open to innovation and change. • Never lose sight of the tremendous value of what you do. I wish you great success in opening those new doors! QUESTIONS?
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