The gap between what administrators and faculty members think about the quality of online education has widened, according to the 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology. However, the groups do agree that textbooks are too expensive.
The survey, conducted by Gallup, of 2,175 faculty members and 105 administrators found that 63% of faculty members and 84% of administrators said they believe investment in educational technology is money well spent. At the same time, just 20% of faculty and 17% of administrators have seen significant gains in student outcomes.
Just 17% of responding faculty members said for-credit online courses have student outcomes at least equivalent to those taught in person, down from 26% in the 2014 survey. The numbers for administrators were much more positive, as 62% said online courses were of the same quality as in-person classes. That number rises to 88% if the course is being offered at the administrator’s institution.
When it comes to course materials, 93% of faculty and 98% of administrators said they believe they are too expensive. Open educational resources (OER) get high marks, with 92% of faculty and 97% of administrators agreeing that instructors should assign such content more often. However, Inside Higher Ed has also conducted research that found many faculty members have never heard of OER, and those who have don’t know where to find such materials.
“These new data from Gallup make it clear that faculty understand the problems with textbooks and other commercial course materials and are very positive of OER,” said David Wiley, chief academic officer of Lumen Learning. “Both moves significantly decrease students’ cost to graduate while increasing faculty’s pedagogical flexibility.”