As students return to campus for the spring semester, colleges and universities are updating COVID 19 guidelines and making accommodations for both online and in-person classes.
Continuing evolution of online learning
Although most colleges and universities have online learning courses now, very few of the traditional colleges allow students to graduate with a degree earned 100% online. Georgia Tech, MIT, the University of Florida, and the University of Arizona Global Campus are exceptions. The University of Illinois at Chicago has now returned 90% of their engineering courses back to campus. On-campus is now the default, although they offer some online courses.
After the fast-tracked technology adoptions of the pandemic years, schools are much better situated to offer online and hybrid courses. Faculty continues to receive professional development on the best ways to engage students online by integrating available technology and learning best practices.
Research from the year before the pandemic revealed that there were more women taking online higher ed coursed than men. 65% of undergraduates and 54% of graduate online students were women. 85% of online students believed the value they obtained from their online degree equaled or exceeded what they paid for. This will be an interesting metric to watch over time.
Predictions for online learning in higher ed are that it will become more ubiquitous and sophisticated as institutions learn and adopt ways to evaluate online courses for content and student engagement. Background conditions that will continue to support more online courses are the increase in interest for skills-based training; the evolving conversation about the value of college degrees; the fact that online study is usually less expensive than the full campus experience; and the demographic shift to non-traditional students.