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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hidden Costs for Online Courses

Developing an online course usually isn’t cheap, but one particular expense is often underestimated: updating the course down the road. Face-to-face class content also needs to be refreshed from time to time, but online courses may call for hardware or software upgrades or time-consuming reviews to ensure web resources are still accessible.

Inside Higher Education took a look at how institutions are grappling with processes and costs to keep online courses up to date. Some schools didn’t take into account the maintenance cost for online courses, which over just a few years can add up to more than the original development cost.

Schools that offer quite a few online courses tend to require faculty to conduct a formal review of the course every few years, more often in the case of rapidly evolving subjects, such as computer science or biology. At Walden University, the review includes a report on whether the course is achieving learning outcomes. Western Governors University reviews each course annually, but it also has 200 faculty who work solely on course development.

If the faculty member who originally created the course leaves, it can take much longer for someone else to review and update the material. Installing cybersecurity measures to protect online courses from hackers is also a growing cost.

“I definitely would caution any institution from thinking of online courses as a quick moneymaker, at least if you want to do it right,” said Jessie Guy-Ryan, who heads the online learning team at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.