Let the market speak. I remember being told when I was young that I had two ears and one mouth for a reason…to listen more than speak. The same principle is true when assessing the market response messaging from adult students. A listening ear will notify us quickly that a shift in priorities is occurring. Blended online may be on its way out.
As we work from coast to coast with institutions of higher education in the adult market, we find there are a lot of voices out there. And one of the greatest challenges is assisting our partner institutions position their new adult programs within their unique market-space.
Ten years ago I predicted that blended online learning would capture the adult market for three very distinct reasons. First of all, the number one reason for adults choosing one degree program over another is that of convenience. That still remains true. Secondly, I suggested that adults were still in need of the significant human connections found only in the classroom, and thus a blended approach combining face-2-face and online would become very appealing. Finally, I predicted that it would be at least ten to fifteen years before the returning adults would embrace completely online due to the learning curve of technology.
A shift has occurred.
As we are actively positioning our partner institutions in the market-space, we find that even though my first prediction is true, the second and third predictions only had a lifespan of ten years maximum. Adults today seem to fall into one of two buckets, and very few in between. The first bucket represents those who will never embrace technology as a platform for learning. This may not necessarily be a resistance to change but the very makeup of their learning style and what they are comfortable in doing while creating a learning community. All of our partner institutions do this first bucket very well.
The second bucket is that of completely online. Apparently with the advent of droves of adults creating community on social networking sites such as Facebook, the learning curve has been overcome much earlier than expected. Adults are coming back to school in record numbers and looking for completely online options. They seem to be very comfortable creating community without any face2face contact.
This new shift in the market causes enrollment experts like Education Strategy to make sure our partner institutions are developing marketing strategies for completely online delivery. Fortunately, our curriculum is already designed for completely classroom, completely online and any mix of blended that can be desired.
I’m not prepared to say that blended online delivery for working adults is dead. I am prepared to say that we must listen to the market as we position our educational offerings to adults. A new strategy is now demanded for ongoing enrollment growth. Education Strategy is up to the task.