Survey finds higher education institutions are adopting standards to promote online education quality

The 2013 Managing Online Education Survey by WCET reveals 85% of responding institutions have implemented some form of standards or best practices in online courses.

Boulder, CO – WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) in partnership with BCcampus, Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, and eCampusAlberta, announce the release of the 2013 Managing Online Education Survey Results focused on the practices that promote quality in online education.

Key findings include:

  • Institutions are Adopting Standards. More than 85 percent of responding institutions have implemented some form of “standards” or “best practices” in their online courses.
  • Course Completion Rates Averaged 3-5 Percent Better for On-Campus Over Online Courses. When looking at all responses, the difference in course completion rates was three percent in favor of on-campus courses. When looking only at institutions that provided both on-campus and online completion rates, the difference was 5 percent. Online-only institutions reported completion rates that were well above average for either online or on-campus courses.
  • Institutions Don’t Know Their Course Completion Rates. Institutions had trouble providing course completion rates for both online and on-campus courses. Sixty-five percent were not able to provide an on-campus rate and 55 percent did not report an online rate.
  • Institutions are Providing Support Services at a Distance. The vast majority of institutions offer library services and advising to online students. Fewer, but still a majority, offer tutoring services. The survey revealed a need for improvement in providing technical support and accessibility for students with disabilities.

“Institutions are actively adopting standards or best practices which support the development and teaching of quality online courses. Institutions are applying lessons learned from other online providers to improve the student experience,” said Russell Poulin, deputy director for research & analysis for WCET. “There is still room for improvement. Many institutions could not report their course completion rates – either online or on-campus – which signals that this is an area in which institutions should focus, as it is difficult, if not impossible, to improve what is not measured.”

The 2013 Managing Online Education Survey marks a new direction and new partnerships for this survey. Where previous surveys were lengthy and covered a large number of issues in distance education; the new Survey focuses on a theme, with a limited number of questions. Valuable support and assistance for this survey were provided by BCcampus, the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, and eCampusAlberta. Each of these consortia have been active in WCET’s e-Learning Consortia Common Interest Group and have provided necessary insight into survey design, implementation and interpretation of the results.

“As two of Canada’s leading e-learning consortia, BCcampus and eCampusAlberta appreciate our partnership with WCET on the Managing Online Education survey,” said Tricia Donovan, Executive Director, eCampusAlberta. “As demand for online learning grows, it is important to capture how postsecondary institutions are managing their efforts. We are particularly keen to develop further understanding of this work in Canada.”

An executive summary and full report of the 2013 Managing Online Education Survey Results can be found on the WCET website.

About WCET

The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is a cooperative, membership-driven, non-profit exchange of solutions and services that accelerate the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education.

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