Online enrollments are on the rise, even as overall enrollments decline. As an increasingly diverse student body flocks online to meet their educational goals, online completion rates are not yet on par with face-to-face classrooms and are more problematic for students outside of the historically traditional student demographic.
Recognizing the importance of general studies courses and the disconnect that online learners often feel the course was designed to simultaneously promote content learning; introduce students to all the professors in the department; foster excitement about the discipline; and help distance students feel more intimately connected to the academic department. An effective department-wide, collaborative course development process requires culture-building surrounding spirit of online education, policy regarding course “ownership”, issues surrounding compensation, and guidance for faculty that lack experience in online teaching and learning.
The course is designed for convenient learning. Participants can start and stop at any point and access the content from virtually any device. A final check on learning leads to a certificate of completion. Supplemental materials support the course content, and include handouts, full transcripts, readings, and links to online resources.
In order to truly advance the careers and lives of adult learners, educators need to understand the importance of adult learners to universities, the complex lives of adult learners, and the appeal of online courses among this learner group. Not insignificant to this goal is the fact that many of these learners are now millennials with distinct learning preferences and life challenges.