Posted by: Gregory Linton | 05/03/2018

The Boston Consulting Group releases a major report on the benefits and best practices of digital learning

Two weeks ago, the Boston Consulting Group, in conjunction with Arizona State University, released a research report titled “Making digitial learning work: Success strategies from six leading universities and community college.” Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study examined three public research universities, two community colleges, and one state-wide community college system that “have a strong track record of using digital learning to serve large, socioeconomically diverse student populations.” The focus of the study was to examine the return on investment of digital learning under different circumstances.

The study found that, when institutions invest in high-quality courses and programs, they achieve three critical objectives:

  1. They deliver equivalent or even improved student learning outcomes. Students in digital learning earn their degrees faster, which saves them money and enables to them to enter the workforce sooner.
  2. They improve access, especially for disadvantaged students.
  3. They improve the financial picture by growing revenue while reducing operating costs. At four of these institutions, the savings for online courses ranged from 3% to 50% of the average credit hour costs.

In addition, the study summarized seven promising practices for digital learning, which I won’t summarize here. This study should dispel once and for all any remaining skepticism concerning the value and benefits of digital learning. It adds to the mounting evidence that digital learning can enable institutions to increase enrollment, expand access to high-quality education, and improve student performance—all at a lower cost. But as the report emphasizes, institutions must make the investment and commitment to provide high-quality online courses and programs in order to enjoy these benefits.


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