I’m Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior author at The Chronicle of Higher Education covering innovation in and around academe. Subscribe here. Here’s what I’m thinking about this week.
An online-training pioneer dollars the mega-university trend.
Enrollment increase is mostly a using intention in distance schooling — and that’s no longer only for the emerging mega-universities like Southern New Hampshire and Western Governors Universities but additionally for the many different schools bringing an area of interest applications online.
And then there’s Penn State World Campus.
World Campus isn’t known for splashy advert campaigns like the $one hundred-million-a-yr one planned to promote the quickly-to-be-renamed University of Maryland-Global. (World Campus did simply produce a new TV commercial, but so as to run for the next two to three years.) And it hasn’t landed within the headlines, like Arizona State University, for high-profile partnerships with employers like Uber or Starbucks.
The organization has also bypassed the “hyper-growth” approach of a few competitors. And now it quite a whole lot ignores what turned into once a bold growth goal of its own. (In 2014 it had plans to more than triple its enrollment, to 45,000, in a decade. Total enrollment today is about 20,000.)
Yet I knew that far away from the countrywide spotlight, World Campus has rarely been sitting nevertheless. So remaining week, after I visited Penn State to talk at the Hendrick Conference on person newcomers (greater approximately that underneath), I additionally spent time with World Campus leaders. I still discover it tough to realize if it’s going to prove to be the tortoise of online schooling, or if its self-admitted conservatism will go away it within the dust as competitors ramp up. But certainly, there are worthy lessons there about making sure educational great and alignment with the broader college assignment, especially for different faculties which couldn’t believe themselves becoming a member of the mega-university ranks.
According to the present day to be had federal statistics, World Campus pronounced the fourth-highest all-online enrollment amongst public establishments nationally in the fall of 2017, and 21st overall. Back in 2012, it ranked seventh by using the primary measure and thirty-fifth over all. That scale, enjoy, and growth is tendencies “maximum public universities would love to have,” says Richard Garrett, who follows online education for the consulting organization Eduventures.
The World Campus was a pioneer of online schooling (certainly, a pioneer in distance education altogether, thinking about what it used Rural Free Delivery to start mailing correspondence publications to farmers in the past due 1800s). My colleagues and I were writing approximately this online arm of Penn State University for more than 20 years, relationship to the times whilst the Sloan Foundation turned into awarding millions to it and other fledgling ventures that were developing asynchronous online learning. One of our modern longer pieces got here out in 2014 when Renata Engel changed into named partner vice provost for online packages. She’s now vice provost.
Its call aside, World Campus attracts fantastically few international college students. Only about four percent are overseas. It does have a countrywide footprint, even though; only approximately 29 percent of its graduate enrollment and 38 percentage of its undergrads are in Pennsylvania. About 15 percent of students are also enrolled as residential Penn State students, both at the University Park campus, which I visited, or at one of the 20-plus other branches.
Two matters clearly struck me in my conversation with Engel and the companion vice provost, Karen Pollack. One became World Campus’s apparent caution in imparting new packages. It doesn’t start them till it and the applicable academic departments agree that needful foundational courses are also available in a web format that satisfies the college. Pollack stated the same old is: “Would you accept a graduate from this program into your doctoral software?”
Such decisions are easier to make while the net campus is considered a vital part of the general institution. But warning runs each approach. I additionally heard privately from some faculty members who bristle that the advertising and marketing team at World Campus too often nixes ideas for brand new packages. Pollack stated the hesitancy. “We’re now not announcing sure to as tons,” she said, however, attributed that to issues approximately being able to compete and maintain a hundred and sixty present programs updated.