Online Higher Education: A brief article review

No Financial Aid, No Problem. For-Profit University Sets $199-a-Month Tuition for Online Courses, is a Chronical of Higher Education article introducing a revolutionary higher education model about for-profit online education.  I analyzed the article using political, structural, human resource, and symbolic organizational frames recommended by Bolman and Deal (2008).  The article addressed the benefits, obstacles, and controversy surrounding online education.  Even though the article stated that its online student enrollment has increased 30 to 40 percent each year, what are some other confounding variables that affect students and higher education?  Furthermore, how do employers perceive an online degree and will that perception help or hinder an online graduate’s probability of being hired?  The increasingly popular online education system provides a self-paced model creating flexible student schedules and a pay-as-you-go payment plan.

The article mentioned that online, for-profit universities are also changing the role of faculty.  Instead of a professor, faculty members are “Course Mentors”.  Their primary responsibility is to teach with little or no advisement requirements.  Furthermore, “Course Mentors” have no grading responsibilities.  “Graders” are outsourced staff with the sole responsibility to assess and record student grades (having no instruction responsibilities).  Like the online education revolution, almost every major organizational change is accompanied by new policy, new problems, and new solutions.  The question is, will educational leaders resist or embrace the changes?  Information Technology (IT) and Social Business (SB) will continue to synergize with higher education.  It will be the innovators and educational leaders who study and restructure the use of IT and SB to produce our most desired outcomes.

We will witness many intended and unintended consequences resulting from for-profit, online education.  These changes will transform traditional scholar, instructor, administrator, and employer roles.  As we redesign the college experience to fit a 21 century culture, let’s reevaluate our mission and policies from a structural, political, symbolic, and human resource organizational frame.  This strategy will help us plan and implement new initiatives contributing to the most efficient, effective, and streamlined hybrid higher education system.

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