Virtual Learning Symposium

With the arrival of the online for-profit higher education enterprise in the market and quickly reaching the top enrollment ranking in 2009, it is evident that the students demand for flexible schedules, on-demand access, and having access to more courses are factors that influence students’ enrollment behaviors. 

However, it is no longer the for-profit sector that is providing online degrees, but also AAU universities.  These changes are consistent with the findings of a recent Pew Internet Survey of College Presidents:  that 77% reported their institutions now offer online courses, 15% said that most of their current undergraduates have taken a class online, and 50% predict that 10 years from now most of their students will take their classes online.

This proposal requests funds to offer a symposium on the UB campus to examine best practices, business models and implementation strategies involved in constructing virtual education frameworks at colleges and universities around the country.  The symposium would attract virtual education experts from around the country and engage a large fraction of the UB faculty to attend the program.  The symposium will provide the feedback and impetus enabling UB to develop a comprehensive plan and the best institutional strategy for building its own virtual education framework capacity.  We expect that this framework will increase:  student retention, out-of-state and international students, tuition revenue, and student quality over time.  In addition, UB will increase accessibility to higher education for people in surrounding, under-resourced rural communities.  The impact of this proposal will be evaluated in terms of all of those metrics.