Parry, M. (2009) Online Programs: Profits Are There, Technological Innovation Is Not Chronicle of Higher Education, October 19
A news report of a study by the consulting firm Eduventures, “Benchmarking Online Operations: Snapshots of an Emerging Industry,” (not yet available as of November 28, 2009, except to Eduventures members).
From the Chronicle’s news report
Online education has grown in popularity, yet it remains dependent on learning-management systems, with content-delivery built around text, says Richard Garrett, an Eduventures managing director.
“The underlying delivery model or pedagogical model hasn’t really changed much in the last five, 10 years,” Mr. Garrett says.
The study found that nearly all programs were either profitable or breaking even. Overall, 65 percent reported that their online programs were profitable. For for-profits, 100 percent were profitable; for nonprofits, 62 percent were. (With nonprofit colleges, “profit” is used in the sense of a surplus, with revenues being larger than expenses. Universities have various systems for handling the surplus.)
The Eduventures survey found that the widely used tools are e-mail, text discussions that don’t happen in real time, physical textbooks, and word and PDF documents.
That contrasts with what you find on the programs of distance-learning conferences, where the talk is often about Web 2.0 technology that allows students to interact with the content or the provider in tangible ways.