Factors that shape administrators'
decisions for implementing online courses in small private universities.
Osborn, Kevin D., Ph.D., University
of Kansas, 2009
The recent Sloan report found that
online course enrollments are increasing 13% annually. This study
investigated how the vision and philosophy of the academic leadership in
small private universities influence the development of online learning.
Investigations regarding online learning leadership have noted four
core issues: 1) a clear institutional vision for online learning, 2)
policy for integrating online learning, 3) budgeting for integrating
online learning, and 4) planning for outcomes and assessment
The researcher selected 8 small private institutions that offered online
courses or programs and were part of the 18 Kansas Independent College
Association (KICA). Onsite interviews were conducted with Academic
Affairs VPs at seven KICA institutions. The interviewer asked a series
of questions concerning online learning policy, definitions, budget, and
outcomes assessment. Recordings were transcribed and data were
evaluated, coded, and organized into central themes using Boyatzis'
framework (1998). A comparison of independent rater's coding to the
primary rater's coding using Cohen's Kappa found a high (0.83)
Results revealed an overall lack of vision and
planning to support the growth of online learning. All participants
stated that the desire to increase revenue was the primary reason for
considering online courses while expanding educational offerings was
secondary. Participants acknowledged that online learning was gaining
importance in higher education. Many institutions view their on-campus
experience as central to their mission. Leaders often associate online
learning more with adult learners than with the undergraduate
residential student body. Consequently, leaders often do not choose
online learning for their undergraduate programs.
leaders should explore online courses as a way to extend the
institution's academic reach and best serve the needs of the students,
faculty, and community. The PresidentÕs role in advocating for online
learning is critical. Presidents may wish to take a leadership role in
assuring that at least one fully or partially online undergraduate
course is taught online. This approach will serve to assess the
viability of online courses for their institutions. Additionally, small
private institutions could benefit from their peer institutions by
forming alliances to support online program development and training