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Survey: Higher Ed Online Officers Satisfied With Spring Response but See Need for Improvement in Fall

Quality Matters and Eduventures Research released the fifth version of the Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) survey report, based on responses from 308 ‘Chief Online Officers’. The report, CHLOE 5: The Pivot to Remote Teaching in Spring 2020 and Its Impact, was conducted in May and offers some interesting nuance for those who read the report. The executive summary, and likely headlines, will point out that “most COOs (78%) judged the pivot to have been completely or largely successful in achieving its primary goal of allowing students to complete the academic term”, which could be problematic if this view indicated complacency. But that’s not what the report details show.

The report showed a strong recognition of the need to improve educational quality, using a combination of quality standards, course and tool standardization, and enhanced faculty and student training / orientation.

Figure 6 showing methods to improve planned fall 2020 remote courses

The report has useful nuance, including a recognition that not all institutions are the same, and a recognition that remote teaching is not the same as pre-planned, designed online education. For example, COOs were asked whether faculty – student engagement is better for “online study” in general compared to “remote study in Spring 2020”. Not surprisingly, online fares better than remote, but the degree to which COOs judge this to be the case and the variation between institution types is valuable.

Figure 8 on student engagement, comparing online study to remote study in the spring.

This last question, however, gets at a key weakness of the report – subjective evaluations from COOs interpreting the effect on students and faculty. Beyond preparation and engagement, the survey asked about faculty and student interests and attitudes towards online learning based on their new experience with the spring pivot. COOs should have valuable insights on these subjects and have their own impressions, but we should acknowledge that conclusions on second-hand views about student and faculty attitudes are tenuous.

More useful are non-subjective questions, such as the tools used during the spring remote pivot. While video conferencing (primarily Zoom) grew more than any other system usage, the LMS remains the workhorse (although the depth of usage, and balance of synchronous vs. asynchronous course activities was not described).

There is also a useful section asking about plans to use or expand relationships with Online Program Management (OPM) vendors. Read the full report.

As part of our COVID Transitions podcast, Kevin Kelly, Jeanette Wiseman, and I discussed this CHLOE 5 report in more depth, including a rough comparison with the Tyton Partners / Every Learner Everywhere “Time For Class” faculty survey report. You can listen to the podcast below, or go to the episode page where there is also a full transcript.