Green, K. C. (2010) Managing Online Education, Encino CA: The Campus Computing Project,/WCET

Kolowich, S. (2010) Internal barriers to online expansion, Inside Higher Education, November 12

The Campus Computing Project and the second annual Managing Online Education study is a survey of 183 nonprofit, mostly public two- and four-year colleges that offer online programs, conducted by the Campus Computing Project and the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications.

There are several important findings from the summary of this study (the full report will be available in December).

Faculty resistance to online learning still strong

Approximately 75% of all respondents said that faculty resistance to online learning was a factor that impeded the institution in moving to online learning. (In fact this is a slight increase over the figures for 2009)

Lack of money and resources are other main barriers to online learning

Kenneth C. Green, the author of the study comments in the Inside Higher Education article:

The biggest factors holding back the expansion of online programs at the 183 responding colleges? Lack of instructors and support personnel (61 percent) and budget cuts (56 percent). In a presumably related pattern, 67 percent reported having growth plans fettered by “[s]tudent demand for online courses which exceeds capacity to provide these courses.”

In other words, the pace at which colleges expand their online arms now depends largely on internal politics and how much money administrators can wrangle from their depleted coffers. And if there is opposition, the call is likely to be coming from inside the house.

Faculty training is now a major investment for online learning

Fully half the colleges and universities report that faculty (including adjuncts and part-time instructors) who engage in online teaching must have mandatory training, averaging 22 hours, ‘in contrast to their peers in traditional classrooms.’

Reorganization of online learning

A large proportion of the respondents had either reorganized or restructured for online learning in the past two years, or were intending to do so in the next couple of years. Unfortunately there is no information on what is driving this or what form it takes.

Accessibility to online learning for the disabled remains a problem

‘Many campuses do not have formal policies and procedures to assure that their online courses and programs are compliant with ADA mandates.’

Tech support

Approximately one third of the institutions offer 24/7 technical support, and 16% limit tech support to normal weekday working hours.


44% reported that online courses make a profit, 9% break even and 45% didn’t know! In 68% of the institutions surveyed, students paid the same tuition for online as for classroom teaching.


These data add tremendous support for the recommendations in our forthcoming book on ‘Managing Technology in Higher Education’, supporting many of the findings that we identified in our 11 in-depth case studies.

The Campus Computing Project, together with the Sloan-C studies, are probably the two most useful factual annual surveys of the state of online learning in the USA. There is nothing comparable in Canada or many other countries. For this, we owe Kenneth C. Green a huge thank you.


  1. One of the findings listed suggests that in the US, many online instructors are asked to have specific online teaching training. In your experience, is there a similar call for this sort of training in Canada?

  2. Hi, Ron

    I know some institutions in Canada have training for instructors for fully online teaching. For instance, UBC has a guide for instructors for its online distance courses. I hope people from other Canadian institutions can give you a more comprehensive reply about the practice in other Canadian institutions.

    I think the problem here is less the fully online programs, particularly if the institution has a history of distance education programs, where training has traditionally been provided, but the blended or hybrid programs. Here we have instructors with often no training developing online components that merely add more work for themselves and the students, without discernible learning gains. I would like to see new designs for hybrid courses, but that will require either extensive training of instructors, or a team approach with instructional designers web designers (or both).

    Anyone else from Canada like to reply to Ron?


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