The changing competitive landscape presents a challenge for colleges and universities across the country. As a result, institutions are assessing their revenue streams, developing strategies to address changing student behaviors, accepting new realities related to state support, and working with shifting enrollment demographics.
One example of a changed consumer behavior is the technology migration to online learning. More than one in four students take at least one online course, and 2.85 million take all their courses online.* This trend toward technology as part of the delivery method is difficult to ignore, but in the same study, the percentage of CAOs who believed online learning was critical to their long-term strategy fell about seven percent.
In short, the demand for online learning is growing, but many institutions are struggling to identify what this trend means for their business model.
While online learning isn’t one size fits all, it does come in many sizes. For some, online learning can mean entire degrees offered online and “global” campuses. For other institutions, adapting some online learning means increasing revenues through efficiencies in classroom or laboratory usage and enhanced learning outcomes while still adhering to mission.
- Using hybrid learning, introductory laboratory courses can be taught online and in person by reducing the number of actual in lab days and expand the number of lab sections offered.
- Shifting all summer-school learning from face-to-face to online at a reduced rate due to strong competition from local community colleges. (Remember to take volume and real costs into account when considering realistic margins.)
- Integrating deeper learning through online learning platforms by creating virtual activities which deepen engagement and allow non-traditional or traditional students who work evening jobs more flexibility. (Deeper levels of engagement mean increased retention revenues.)
Technology isn’t the only trend institutions can utilize to improve their business model, but it is one of the more adaptable and scalable components.