The Online Campus Model: 3 Reasons It Works
Online College Student Susan:
“Hi John! How’s school going this semester? My professors are amazing!”
Residential College Student John:
“School’s great, Susan. I’m glad you’re loving your classes, but I have to say, I’m surprised you don’t feel isolated going to college online for four years.”
Online College Student Susan:
“Not at all! I’ve shared the same student support services that you enjoy on campus. In fact, you and I will be graduating and getting our diplomas in the same university field house on the same day!”
One of the most important aspects of the distance learning academic consumer experience is making sure your students are properly supported. An online environment doesn’t offer the same level of regular, day-to-day personal interaction with teachers and administrators that a location-based education model provides. So, how do you keep tabs on all students and make sure everyone has the resources they need to succeed?
The answer: the online campus model. This concept has been successful for both Liberty University Online in Virginia and for Houston Baptist University Online in Texas. In fact, Liberty University grew from 50,000 full-time students to 100,000 using this model. It’s a system that works best when rooted in the residential campus program and not run separately. Below we outline three reasons why this model really works well:
#1 The Benefits of Online Learning
Technology offers an educational experience that wasn’t available years ago. If you wanted a distance learning curriculum in the past, you received VHS tapes or DVDs in the mail. Now, teaching and learning can happen anywhere, at any time.
Connectivity gives students real-time access – and not just to classes. There are websites for resources and live chat networks that allow students and teachers to connect all at once, just like in a residential campus classroom. A student can watch lessons from a hotel room on a business trip, in the office before work in the morning, or while the children are in school.
Accessibility to faculty is important. Today’s teachers can hold online office hours and advise students via video chat rather than email. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you can get a fabulous education.
#2 Classmate Camaraderie
The situation used to be that distance learning happened in a vacuum. No more. Video sessions and student-teacher chat networks like Slack allow students across the nation to interact with one another and share experiences. All of the benefits, amenities, activities, and support services of a campus are available to every student, without limitations.
What’s great about this model is that online and residential students can come together as a single community. They have the opportunity to grow together as a cohort, no matter what their ages, backgrounds, or degree paths.
#3 Not Just Online: A Campus at Your Fingertips
If you don’t have a physical campus available to your learners, you can still create a powerful resource center. Start by looking at what your students need.
An adept, accessible staff is critical for distance learning. For example, many people have multiple transcripts from universities. It makes sense to have a fast-responding administrative team that can tackle unique situations like this, and it’s important for them to be available. These students are people who work, manage families, or both. Their time is not as fluid as a residential student’s.
Some students need additional tutoring, career mentorship, academic advising, library help, or a place to go for additional resources like groups, articles, national and regional activities, and more. Your online campus should be able to provide everything your students need to succeed. Make sure your program is considered a full-service provider, because this is how an adult distance learner evaluates a program.
The best-performing and most efficient campus models are the ones that mimic the resources available at residential campuses. Does your online program run as a Campus Online Model? When your online program is integrated with the school’s residential campus program, and not run separately, it can mean faster, more enduring success for your program.
Steve Peterson, Ed.D and Jay Spencer, DMin from Houston Baptist University recently visited our office for a candid discussion about the importance of the Campus Online Model and why it works. See the video link below to learn what makes it successful.