3 Reasons Online Learning Institutions Fail


IPMA Education and Training Series

Key challenges online educators face in their quest for mainstream industry and marketplace acceptance

By Dr. Steve Perry



It’s common knowledge that professional success can be greatly enabled and enhanced with a college education at any stage of life and no matter where a person is in their career path. But, for those who are already in the workforce or dealing with the demands of an entrepreneurial venture, pursuing a college degree is not an easy journey amid work, family, social and community commitments. For this category of lifelong learners, the need for more accessible and economically feasible choices is greater now than ever before.

For decades, higher education has followed a tried and true, largely unchanged format since the Industrial Revolution. While modern-day technology has transformed other critical aspects of society, from the way products are manufactured to how goods and services are delivered to the way people manage their day-to-day lives, the approach to higher education had resisted opportunities for game-changing advancements.

Fortunately, in the last several years, new entrants and approaches within the education arena have spurred the industry’s rapid adoption of new technologies, and substantially enhanced the options available to continuing education student. One tech-driven facet has ushered in an entirely new era: online degree programs. While learning outside of a physical classroom setting is something that was almost unheard of just a decade ago, in 2013 nearly half (45%) of the 21 million students in the United States took at least one online course.

Fast forward to 2015—a time when working adult students, in particular, are turning to the Internet in pursuit of more cost-effective classes, certification programs and entire degrees in droves. However, while there are numerous proven benefits to an online education, such as flexible learning schedules, budget-friendliness and access to industry-leading curriculums, the industry is not without its challenges. Indeed, online educators face 3 key challenges in their journey toward mainstream industry and marketplace acceptance.

Challenge 1: Establishing a Relevant Curriculum

Without a doubt, the learning dynamic we’ve grown accustomed to with traditional, face-to-face courses varies greatly from a technology-based online learning environment. Thus, in order to succeed, the development of an online curriculum must address these differences and prepare students for the unique challenges they will face in an Internet-based environment.

A study conducted by Colombia University in 2013 confirms that a well-planned curriculum is paramount to ensuring the successful learning outcome of online students. The study showed that factors such as clearly communicated goals and learning objectives, successful use of technology, and opportunity for personal interaction with instructors and other students were the main distinguishing factors in predicting the success of online students.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by members of the IPMA Education and Training (E&T) Board or other IPMA leaders on the subject of project management education, training, careers and related topics. More information about the IPMA E&T can be found at http://ipma.ch/education.


About the Author    



Dr. Steve Perry

Connecticut, USA




“America’s Most Trusted Educator,” Dr. Steve Perry, MSW is a revered education expert and best-selling author of “Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve – Even If It Means Picking a Fight” among other titles. Dr. Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, CT, USA is also the host of “Save My Son,” TVONE’s #1 docudrama. He may be reached online at http://www.tdjakesleadership.com/.