The Business of Managing On-Line Education: How To Avoid Failure

There are problems in the managing of on-line education as reported in the LA Times.

Over one half of the students failed in a recent initiative. The education on-line provider Udacity is being suspended as a vendor to San Jose State University.

There were three management challenges identified:
1) These were remedial classes which may have been ill-suited for an on-line approach;
2) Student expectations were not managed; and
3) Udacity may have lacked attention to detail and follow-up.

On-line education is a new frontier.  But some of these problems may have been avoidable.  Your Business Blogger(R) teaches management on-line, E Classes at The Catholic University of America.  And we’ve learned some important lessons and developed some strategies that are serving us well.

 CUA began our program starting with more experienced, mature students.  This gave us classes with more disciplined students. We also worked with our on-line vendor to train and manage the faculty — a real learning (organization) experience.

We avoided a high failure rate by ensuring that the on-line student knew the academic expectations and that faculty and staff would be checking on them. For example, if a student did not initially log in for the class materials s/he got a reminder within 24 hrs.  This would be the control part of management.

San Jose did not know that some students did not have access to a computer.  This is an odd lack of planning for an on-line provider.

Even though the internet is an on-line delivery medium, and not an on-ground classroom, the entire process still must be managed.  At CUA we designated a point person as a faculty point of contact with our education vendor.

Who was San Jose State University holding accountable to manage the program?

Udacity’s CEO was “not available” for comment.


Full Disclosure: Deltak Innovation is our on-line vendor. This is an unpaid endorsement.

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