Study: Digital learning may not be the answer to liberal arts institutions’ woes

This adapted content originally appeared on February 1, 2018 in Education Dive, by Associate Editor Shalina Chatlani

The appeal of online education as an addition to the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom setting is gaining steam throughout the industry, but figures showing the unstable state of online student retention indicates that merely just investing in online courses may not be the right approach.

Michael Horowitz, president of the TCS Education System, a nonprofit group of colleges where the backbone organization handles economies of scale for partner institutions, including investment in online professional degree programs, spoke with Education Dive this week about how to decide whether it’s the right time to develop a digital learning presence. He explained it’s important to consider context and invest slowly.

“The online component is supposed to be additive to the quality of instruction. In our approach, online is organic and layered in. We first and foremost ask, ‘Do the students want this?” said Horowitz.

“The Chicago School, in our system, is [opening a location in] Dallas, for example,” he said. “They are going to figure out what the local community wants. What’s the format the students want? Do they want all ground? Do they want to come at night?”

“When it comes to our students, they are in their 30s,” he continued. “They are committed and they know what they want and are more receptive to online.”

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