ERIC Number: EJ1180045
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
The Economics of Distance Education: Boxing Match or Productive Dialogue?
Poulin, Russell; Straut, Terri Taylor
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v50 n1 p14-23 2018
There is a gap in understanding between legislators, governors, and other leaders and those who actually manage the distance learning operations on the nation's campuses. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education's (WICHE) Cooperative Study of Educational Technologies (WCET) took a systematic approach to gauging the opinions of distance education professionals about the economics of their craft. They conducted an in-depth survey in 2016 to gather current information about the cost and price of offering distance courses. The resulting report (Poulin & Straut, 2017) presents detailed information about the economic factors surrounding distance courses as viewed by the 197 survey respondents who are at the front lines in creating them. Interviews were also conducted with leaders who have researched the issue of cost and price, most of whom have experience with models that have been cheaper. Survey results showed that most of the respondents disagreed with policymakers, as they were experiencing higher costs to deliver courses. But not all respondents agreed with that assessment nor do experts who have studied alternatives. Governors and legislators faced with competing budget pressures in many states and concerns about affordability believe that distance education is a low-cost solution to these challenges. Experts with experience in course design argue that distance courses do not need to cost more if they are redesigned. WCET is trying to get people holding different views to engage in an authentic dialogue about this topic.
Descriptors: Distance Education, Educational Change, Costs, Educational Finance, Economic Factors, Delivery Systems, Educational Policy, Public Officials, Legislators, Budgets, Teacher Attitudes, Administrator Attitudes, Interviews, Surveys, Teacher Role, Barriers, Higher Education, Instructional Leadership
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A