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Taking on new roles in online education

In the US there are 1,600 independent non-profit colleges, as well as 800 private universities. In Australia there are 169 higher education providers, and in New Zealand there are 25 private institutions. To help bolster falling on-campus students many are offering online courses

However, the competition is fierce. There are enrolment struggles in the face of continuing expenses and capital expenditures. Some of the early adopters who set up online courses experienced speedy growth, which fell just as rapidly while other institutions started to offer online courses - even globally. The enrolment conversion rates in the US is less than 20% according to xxxxx, even with high discount rates. Attrition rates also tend to be higher. The only online programmes that tend to be financially successful are niche courses.

A large number of academics reaching retirement age, and many academics, according to Colleen Halupa, are resisting the "corporatization of education in U.S, Australia and other countries". In Australia the number of faculty have not kept pace with the demand for education, which has resulted for some on a 50 to 60 hour work week.

In Colleen Halupa's institution the traditional roles and management are no longer relevant, of need re-shaping. These include curriculum management, accreditation / programme accreditation, and teaching and scholarship. In order to keep ahead of the competition, there are new roles that have to be fulfilled including enrolment and recruitment activities for online courses. A second area is community, corporate and organisational outreach.

Other things, Colleen suggests are different in her role as an academic are fundraising, responding to continual changes in the online landscape, and being active in improving student retention (including designing courses for remediation).

It is "both an exciting and challenging time in online education"...it's a time to try on different roles that changes the way we educate and do things.

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