Shifting to an Online Environment

Cary L. Tyler
Ed Tech 522/July 22nd, 2011

Upon completing my interview of a student who had taken a hybrid class, and conducting a little research behind it, it was interesting to see one of the nation’s largest universities not only taking an aggressive role in moving to a solid online presence, but expecting to profit well from it.

Arizona State University, which cracked 70,000 students and has more than 56,000 undergraduates, wants to have 30,000 students fully online by 2020. Anne Ryman, in an article for the Arizona Republic in June of this year, discussed how the university made $6.2 million in profit from online instruction this past year, and expects to make $200 million (or 7 percent of the university’s revenue) by 2020 (AZ Central).

Currently, only 3,000 students are utilizing some form of online instruction at the university, while Northern Arizona University, which is three hours north of Phoenix and had 25,000 students in 2010, had nearly 3,000 students online. Grand Canyon University, a for-profit institution in Phoenix, had more than 10,000 students enrolled online.

The question that has jumped into my mind is this? Will the proliferation of the online courses eventually establish the “super university” and doom some smaller universities?

It is clear that online is cheaper than brick-and-mortar.  It is simple semantics: classrooms require electricity, heating and air conditioning. Parking structures cost money, as do buildings and space for students and offices for teachers. If online instructors are given solid internet access, good hardware, and tools such as those utilized this semester within this course, their office can be anywhere (and living in the Pacific Northwest, I am good with that).

Jumping from this into the hybrid mode…another question I have is the viability of hybrid when universities such as ASU want a “fully online” experience for their students. It appears that the university expects older, more part-time students, but also may be thinking that the younger generation of students, especially college students, are tech savvy enough (and also becoming distant from their conceptualization of what the traditional classroom represented) to embrace a fully online experience as well.

It almost appears that the hybrid may be serving some colleges as a transition vessel to move more and more students to a fully online model.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this approach…if I had the opportunity, I would love to rekindle my undergraduate days and sit in a classroom, but with the chance to prop my laptop on the desk and frantically take notes. However, I am a full-time professional with a family, and I do not have time to fight Portland’s rush hours to get to a university, nor do I wish to move to Eugene or Corvallis, or even Boise, to get this experience.

I am perfectly content sending this via my blog and chatting via e-mail or Skype. My social experience in college was complete in 1987, so I do not feel like I am missing anything.  Somehow I highly doubt colleges are going to want their undergrads all taking classes from places other than the home campuses…especially when there are sports to be had, but that’s another argument for another time.

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One thought on “Shifting to an Online Environment

  1. I think it is a great experience, but hopefully never a start and end to the college experience. (or high school)

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