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ERIC Number: EJ836031
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-0830-0445
The Impact of "Virtualization" on Independent Study Course Completion Rates: The British Columbia Open University Experiment
Giguere, Louis
Journal of Distance Education, v23 n1 p49-70 2009
In 1997 the British Columbia Open University (BCOU) adopted a virtualization strategy based primarily on twinning off-line independent study distance education courses (textbook-based with study guide and telephone and e-mail tutor support) with alternate online versions (textbook-based with integrated conferencing and communications provided through a learning management system). The intent was two-fold: (a) To increase course completion rates to British Columbia (BC) system levels, and (b) To establish a strong online presence, rapidly and cost effectively. "Course-twinning" also provided an opportunity to assess the impact of online delivery on independent study course completion rates. In this study we benchmarked successful completion rates (SCRBs) for BCOU's online academic courses and compared those to off-line course benchmarks. Online SCRBss are consistently higher than off-line SCRBs. Online SCRBs gains follow a clear pattern: they increase with course level and subject matter classifications and are particularly large at the upper-level and in more quantitative disciplines (up to 21.2% increase). Online successful completion rates are comparable to BC system performance statistics in the credit course areas but fall well short for Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses. Since evidence from a contemporary course survey indicate that BCOU student participation in online course versions is not linked to demographic characteristics associated with successful completion rates, we suggest that BCOU student success online results primarily from benefits of online course delivery. We discuss the implications of these results. (Contains 10 tables.)
Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE). 260 Dalhousie Street Suite 204, Ottawa, ON K1N 7E4, Canada. Tel: 613-241-0018; Fax: 613-241-0019; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada