If you are an administrator at an ICE consortium client, you are already on your way to finding more cost-effective ways to offer your students expanded access to high quality online courses as you support your faculty’s opportunity to increase their knowledge and share their expertise.
Student Demand for Online Courses
The number of enrollments in online (Web-based) courses for both undergraduate and graduate education has grown at an unprecedented rate in higher education institutions across the United States over the last decade. In the 2014 fall term, 67 percent of all higher education students in the U.S. were taking at least one online course – a 7 percent increase over the number reported in 2012. The majority of students (over 85 percent) who take online courses are at the undergraduate level. (Babson Survey Research Group 2015).
Like many institutions, you may be struggling to meet this demand. You may not have the faculty with online experience or interest in teaching online. You may lack the resources to develop the high quality courses with the rich media experience students are increasingly expecting. Your enrollments may be too low to justify the development of certain online courses in some specialty areas. Yet, you know that your overall demand for online courses is likely to increase, especially as the downturn in the economy results in more part-time students who are working and need the flexibility online learning provides.
Retaining Students and Faculty
If your students are not finding the online courses they need or want at your institution, they may be dropping out or transferring to another institution. Some will find courses on the Internet and plan to transfer them into your institution later, only to find that they may not meet your institution or program requirements. This will lead to further frustration and higher costs for the student…and higher costs for your institution too as the cost of attracting new students to replace current ones continues to climb.
With budgets so tight, you may be struggling to keep some of your most talented faculty too—especially those teaching low enrollment and specialty courses which are difficult for you to justify financially.
ICE as Strategic Choice
As an ICE consortium client, you can avoid many of these situations by participating in the Exchange. As a Teaching Institution (TI), you can earn marginal revenue by making seats available to other ICE consortium members in courses in which you have excess capacity. By offering these seats, you may make some of your low enrollment courses financially viable and be able to retain a faculty position you would otherwise lose.
As an Enrolling Institution (EI), you can expand your students’ access to high quality courses which you do not currently offer. By selecting and reviewing those courses in advance, your students will know that they transfer and how they articulate. Since they will register at your institution, use your financial aid, and find the course listed on your transcript, they may appreciate the high level of service you provide and be less likely to leave your institution.
Perhaps most valuable is the opportunity through ICE to make strategic choices about what online courses you will offer in the future—which ones you will create and deliver and which ones you will import from another institution. In this way, you can build on your faculty’s strongest expertise—perhaps even broadening your offerings in niche subject areas where the student demand across the region justifies the expansion. Where you lack the resources or expertise to develop certain courses, you can import courses which meet your criteria. In this way, you provide a high quality learning experience for your students as well as opportunities for your faculty to grow in their disciplines. By encouraging your faculty to become involved in our collaborative initiatives, too, you are giving them the opportunity to work with other talented faculty in the region to produce new more robust online courses than a single institution could on its own.
For more information about the strategic use of ICE, see our white paper The Time is Right for the Internet Course Exchange.