State Systems Plot Major Online Growth
Public universities across the country are adjusting to the shifting reality of the online landscape. Despite similar goals, approaches vary widely.
Mark Lieberman March 20, 2019
interviewed administrators at systems across the United States for a wide look at how the landscape is shifting.
The University of Missouri System last year signaled plans to increase its total enrollment from 75,000 to 100,000 by 2023. Administrators pointed to online education as a key driver of future growth.
In other ways, the Missouri system’s approach could look similar to Massachusetts’. Administrators in Missouri are pondering the creation of a separate entity within the system that would offer online programs to adult learners.
Administrators have ruled out purchasing or merging with an existing online apparatus, as Purdue University did with the for-profit Kaplan University to enrollment-expanding but controversial effect.
Senior administrators and board members at Louisiana State University began looking at online education in the early 2010s.
From 2016 to 2018, Sasha Thackaberry served as assistant vice president of academic technology, course production and alternative learning models at Southern New Hampshire University. Louisiana State hired her in February 2018 to lead its online growth; three months later, she was promoted from associate vice provost to vice provost of digital and continuing education.
When Kristina Johnson became chancellor of the State University of New York system in 2017, she challenged administrators to consider a wide range of possibilities for growing online capabilities. According to Tod Laursen, SUNY’s senior vice chancellor and provost, the system has just wrapped up an information-gathering process that will inform a soon-to-be-released request for proposals. Johnson has slated for this fall a major online learning initiative, the details of which are still being ironed out.
Colorado State University Online serves as an online program manager for the state system — distinct from Colorado State University Global, which has a separate faculty and governance structure, and tends to serve adults at an average age in their 30s. CSU Online, by contrast, tends to serve “less seasoned” students between 24 and 34 years old, according to Amy Smith, senior director of CSU Online.
more on online education in this IMS blog