Southern New Hampshire’s president, Paul J. LeBlanc, writes in his thinking paper “The Next Big Thing”:
“The vision is that students could sign up for self-paced online programs with no conventional instructors. They could work at their own speeds through engaging online content that offers built-in assessments, allowing them to determine when they are ready to move on. They could get help through networks of peers who are working on the same courses; online discussions could be monitored by subject experts. When they’re ready, students could complete a proctored assessment, perhaps at a local high school, or perhaps online. The university’s staff could then grade the assessment and assign credit.”
The team at the Network University had pretty much the same delivery model in mind, back when I worked there in the 1990’s. There is a lot of appeal to this model, from the institutions side as well as from the learners perspective. It cuts out a lot of costs and you reap the benefits without having to invest too much in the process. And as a slow or fast learner, or in between jobs or juggling three kids, you no longer have to adapt to the rest but can determine your own pace. But when I think of the online initiatives which have worked and been extremely successful, and what their success factors were, I think we might be missing the point if we choose for this delivery model.