Thursday, July 10, 2014

HBCUs -- Online and Blended Degree Programs -- 2014

Last update: Thursday 7/10/14 @ 10:13 pm

The 2014 edition of the Digital Learning Lab's overview of the state of online and blended degree programs offered by HBCUs is as concise as its 2013 report because all pages are once again on the DLL's HBCU-Levers blog site, rather than in separate PDF files; the tables and charts have been formatted for display on the blog; and the directories that contain most of the report’s underlying data are located in previously published notes on this blog.


A. Introduction
During the late May/early June 2014 time frame, the DLL conducted a systematic survey of the Websites of the nation’s 106 officially designated HBCUs in order to identify their online and blended degree programs. The results of this survey have been compiled into a directory that was published on this blog in June 2014.  (Note: programs that were announced, but not yet in operation were not included.)
  • Some useful definitions are presented in Section B.
     
  • Links to the DLL’s 2012, 2013, and 2014 directories appear in Section C; this section also provides links to the DLL’s reports for 2010 and 2013.
     
  •  Section D tabulates the programs offered in 2014 and compares them to the programs offered by HBCUs in previous years.


  • As per its title, this report covers blended as well as online degree programs. But as can be seen from the DLL's 2014 Directory, no degree programs were identified on HBCU Websites as "blended." Indeed, the plus signs (+) in the directory merely denote a few programs that indicated that "Some face-to-face courses may be required"
     
  • A widely accepted definition of an “online course” -- originated by the Sloan Consortium -- characterizes an “online course” as one that delivers at least 80 percent of its content via the Internet. The 20% slack allows for courses that conduct their exams in proctored face-to-face facilities, hold a few face-to-face orientation sessions, etc.
     
  • Degree programs are composed of collections of required and elective courses. We might extend Sloan-C’s definition of an “online course” to say that an “online degree program” is a program wherein at least 80% of all of the content of all of the courses in the program is delivered via the Internet. If only a few courses in a program are face-to-face, then 80 percent of the content of all of the courses in the program could still be delivered via the Internet.

    … but this definition might be misleading, especially for the kind of prospective student who is really looking for online degree programs wherein all courses are 100 percent online, i.e., face-to-face participation is never required.

     
  • Alternatively, we might characterize “online degree programs” as collections of online courses, i.e., each and every course delivers at least 80 percent of its content via the Internet. Unfortunately, this elegant definition is too restrictive because it excludes programs that require student participation in a single on-campus orientation course … and it excludes professional programs that require one or two field courses or practicums wherein the student’s off-campus, hands-on, non-virtual learning experiences are supervised by certified practitioners in face-to-face engagements.
     
  • Consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds, this Big Picture report adopts both definitions!!! The small number of HBCU degree programs that require a few face-to-face courses are included in our tabulations as “online degree programs” … and they will be referred to as “online programs” throughout this report … but the plus signs in the Directories will alert our readers to the non-pedigreed “blended” status of these programs ... :-)

  1. Number of HBCUs Offering Online Degree Programs

  • As shown in Table 1 (below), 33 HBCUs offered online degree programs in 2014, which is 6 more than the 27 HBCUs that offered these degrees in 2013.
     
  • As per Table 2, the number of HBCUs offering associates degrees increased from 3 in 2013 to 5 in 2014; the number of HBCUs offering bachelors degrees increased from 18 to 24; the number offering masters degrees increased from 19 to 22; and 4 HBCUs offered doctoral degrees in both years.

    Note that most HBCUs offered more than one kind of online degree, e.g., associates and bachelors, bachelors and masters, etc.

Table 1. Types of HBCUs Offering Online Degrees
Type of HBCU
2013
2014
Change
% Change
Public
21
26
5
24%
Private
6
7
1
17%
Total
27
33
6
22%
Total HBCUs
106
106


% HBCUs Offering Degrees
25%
31%




Table 2. Number of HBCUs Offering Online Degrees at Each Level
HBCU Levels
2013
2014
Change
% Change
Associates
3
5
2
67%
Bachelors
18
24
6
33%
Masters
19
22
3
16%
Doctoral
4
4
0
0%

   

2. Number of Online Programs Offered by HBCUs
  • As shown in Table 3A, the 106 HBCUs offered a total of 147 online degree programs at all levels, which is 27 more than the 120 programs they offered in 2012. (Note: Arkansas Baptist College was designated as the 106th HBCU in March 2013)
     
  • Almost half of the 147 online degree programs offered by HBCUs in 2014 were at the bachelors level (71) ... followed by masters (47), associates (22), and doctoral (7) degree programs.
Table 3A. Levels of Online Programs Offered by HBCUs
Program Levels
2013
2014
Change
% Change
Associates
18
22
4
22%
Bachelors
59
71
12
20%
Masters
37
47
10
27%
Doctoral
6
7
1
17%
Total
120
147
27
23%

   3. Subject Areas of the Online Programs Offered by HBCUs in 2014
  • Subject Areas
    As can be seen in Table 3B, HBCUs offered most of their degrees in areas also favored by most colleges and universities for online programs. Thus 39 of the 147 degree programs that were offered in 2014 were in management (broadly defined), followed by Information Technology (20), Education (19), and Nursing (14).

  • Professions & Applied Sciences vs Others
    In 2012 the Babson Survey Group published the results of a survey, co-sponsored by Inside Higher Education, of the faculty of U.S. colleges and universities, "
    Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education, 2012."  Babson found that most faculty expressed "more fear than excitement" about growth of online education; whereas most of the faculty in the professions and applied sciences expressed "more excitement than fear" about the growth of online education.

    Table 3C (below) shows that 123 of the 147 online degree programs offered by HBCUs in 2014, i.e., 83.4 percent, were in the professions and applied sciences -- which suggests that the attitudes of the faculty of HBCUs about online programs are consistent with those expressed by the faculty in all of the nation's colleges and universities about online courses, i.e., HBCUs offered far more programs in the professions and applied sciences than in all other fields combined

Table 3B. Subject Areas of Online Programs Offered by HBCUs
Subject Areas
2013
2014
Change
% Change
Management, Administration, Leadership
32
39
7
22%
Education
18
19
1
6%
Information Technology
12
20
8
67%
Nursing
10
14
4
40%
Generic Degrees
9
11
2
22%
Social Sciences
9
10
1
11%
Criminal Justice
8
9
1
13%
Misc. Professional
17
22
5
29%
Other
5
3
-2
-40%
Total
120
147
27
23%


Table 3C. Types of Online Programs Offered by HBCUs
Types of Programs
2013
2014
Change
% Change
Professions & Applied Sciences
97
123
26
27%
Other
23
24
1
4%
Total
120
147
27
23%



   4. Longer Term Trends
  • Table 4 and Chart 1 display two stark trends: the first is that the number of public HBCUs that offer online programs has grown steadily and substantially since 2006. As of 2014, exactly half, 26, of the nation’s 52 public HBCUs offered online degree programs. On the other hand, the table and chart reveal that the number of private HBCUs offering online programs has barely increased, from 2 private HBCUs in 2006 to only 7 out of 55 private HBCUs in 2014.

    Therefore the question that the media have asked every year -- “Why don’t more HBCUs offer online programs?” – has been misdirected. The real question is: Why don’t more private HBCUs offer online programs?
     
  • Unfortunately, the DLL’s survey can’t answer this question; but its data contains an encouraging finding about the few private HBCUs that do offer online programs. As shown in columns 5, 6, and 7 of Table 5, the seven private HBCUs offer more programs on average than the 26 public HBCUs.

    The arithmetic average number of programs offered by private HBCUs, 4.9, is higher than the 4.3 arithmetic average offered by public HBCUs; and the median number of online programs, 3.0, offered by private HBCUs is, again, higher than the 2.5 median for public HBCUs. Indeed, Hampton University, a private HBCU, currently offers 16 online degree programs, the highest number offered by any HBCU. In other words, private HBCUs are much slower to offer online degree programs than public HBCUs, but when they do, they offer more programs than public HBCUs.


Table 4. Types of HBCUs Offering Online Degrees
Type of HBCU
2006
2010
2012
2013
2014
2014 to 2006 Ratio
2014 to 2010 Ratio
Public
10
13
18
21
26
2.6
2.0
Private
2
6
6
6
7
3.5
1.2
Total
12
19
24
27
33


Total HBCUs
105
105
105
106
106


% HBCUs
11%
18%
23%
25%
31%






Table 5. Online Programs Offered by HBCUs
Type of HBCU
HBCUs Offering in 2014
(2)
Total  HBCUs
(3)
% HBCUs Offering Online
(4)
Number of Programs in 2014
(5)
Average Number of Programs
(6)
Medians
(7)
Public
26
52
50.0%
113
4.3
2.5
Private
7
55
12.7%
34
4.9
3.0
Total
33
107

147
4.5
3.0