Ahead of Higher Ed: Online support sees step back

In a study performed by the Babson Survey Research Group and The College Board, the responding university officials from across America expressed a slight decrease in support for online enrollment.

The study, which has been conducted annually since 2003, had always resulted in a steady increase in support. This fall’s result showed a decrease in support to 65.9 from 69.1 percent.

The increased skepticism of online offerings comes at a revolutionary time of massive open online courses, as many schools experimenting with MOOCs are either developing or launching their programs. UH announced it was developing its MOOC program in Summer 2013.

“Given that so many institutions are in the ‘undecided’ camp (of the survey), there is great potential for this to move in either direction,” Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Group, wrote to Inside Higher Ed. “I think the real telling point will be in tracking the institutions that are experimenting with MOOCs for their specific objectives and their reporting of how well MOOCs are meeting those objectives.”

Only 5 percent of the responding 2,831 institutions offered MOOCs, and only 9.3 percent were in the planning phase, like UH is.

“So far, it appears that MOOCs remain in the experimental category for most institutions, without a compelling business model emerging,” Seaman wrote. “In order for a much larger adoption to occur, there will need to be a strong case made for institutions with much more limited resources where the business case for the investment has to be clear.”


NCAA raises Division II schools’ academic standards

The NCAA is working to pass legislation in Division II schools that will reform academic standards for student athletes. Division I schools had similar legislation pass in October 2011.

“In general, the package is designed to move student athletes toward graduation and focused on making sure that prospective student athletes are ready for college,” Maritza Jones, director of Division II for the NCAA, said to Inside Higher Ed. “The difference is, now we have data to support our changes.”

Division II hasn’t changed their rules in a while, Jones said, and after implementation began in Division I schools, Division II schools can feel more comfortable with the change.

The new legislation would raise the minimum hour requirement for the first and second years of college for athletes. Some resent this new rule because of the increased financial burden it will place on the athletes.

UH, as a Division I school, will see the full effect of the 2011 rules this year.

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