Distance learners expect a lot from their online courses, and sometimes those expectations can be rather contradictory. That was the finding of a nationwide survey of 1,500 students taking online courses, according to a report in eCampus News.
Nearly 75% of the students who responded said online programs must help with their careers and must offer personalization choices. When asked, 43% said they preferred electronic course materials and 33% said they wanted paper textbooks.
Respondents also said online courses should include shorter terms, generous transfer terms, and fast responses on admissions decisions, credit review, and financial-aid packaging. At the same time, students want the school to have a strong local brand because 65% live within 100 miles of the institution offering the online instruction.
About 30% of the students said they wanted their courses to be fully online, but nearly half said they would take a blended course and 22% said they found the option of on-campus courses very attractive. Students are interested in features such as low price, self-study options, and job placement rates that set a school apart from its competitors.
The institution had also better market to all ages with a great website that makes it easy to gather a wide variety of information, including tuition costs, admission requirements, and the online programs available. Students also said an online program should be affordable and provide easy access to instructors.
“The patterns and preferences of the sample of individual interviews are reflective of online students as a whole, and the data reflect a national template of the behavior and preferences of these students,” the authors of the report wrote. “College and university leaders can use this information to attract and serve this growing population. Individual institutions should also consider regional data and their position in the local marketplace.”