Faculty Focus


WCET Announces 2013 Managing Online Education Survey Results

The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) has announced the results of its 2013 Managing Online Education Survey. The survey focuses on “practices that promote quality in online education, especially in terms of an institution demonstrating leadership or providing services that enhance faculty and student success,” according to the executive summary.

Survey respondents included two-year and four-year institutions from the United States and Canada.

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.
  • Online Course Content is Developed by Faculty. Even with the emergence of licensed content by publishers and “open content,” 83 percent of respondents said that more the vast majority of their courses use content developed by their own faculty. About 60 percent of institutions use open content, but in only a few courses.
  • Many Institutions Require Faculty Development in Teaching Online and Require Reviews of New Courses. More than half of institutions (58%) require new online faculty to participate in faculty development prior to teaching their first online courses. About half of new (53 percent) and existing (48 percent) online courses are subject to a required review.

“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 oncampus – 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.

An executive summary and full report of the 2013 Managing Online Education Survey Results can be found on the WCET website at: http://wcet.wiche.edu/advance/managing-online-education-survey.