Stephen C. Ludwig1
  • 1 University of Colorado System, 1800 Grant Street, Suite 800, Denver, Colorado, 80203, USA

Higher Learning: Lessons from an Online Advocate

2018. No. 4. P. 167–187 [issue contents]

Stephen C. Ludwig — Regent, at Large, University of Colorado System. E-mail: Steve.Ludwig@cu.edu

On November 16, 2017, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted unanimously to allocate US$20 million for a number of online program initiatives including the development of an online-only master’s degree and an only-only bachelor’s degree with a total fixed-cost—including tuition, books, and fees—of US$15,000 each. The price for the online-only bachelor’s degree will be roughly 75-percent cheaper than a traditional on-campus degree. This article examines lessons learned from the success and failures of an online advocate at the senior leadership level of an institution—the board of directors—that helped make the development of these new degrees possible. From these lessons, the paper argues that United States higher education culture is holding back the rapid expansion of online programs, preventing many universities from fulfilling their social contract with the public and serving more students in the mission of access. The article explores how the dominant mental framework in higher education—the prestige economy—unconsciously drives decisions by many faculty and administrative leaders, and it argues that reputation unto itself does not necessarily equate to a higher quality academic experience for students. As a recourse to the academic prestige economy, the article maps one individual board member’s experience, tracing the importance of vision, leadership, and determination in creating coalition of the willing committed to institutional change. The article ends with a series of thought questions intended as conversational prompt for institutions, regardless of size or mission, to examine their own academic cultural bias and institutional barriers that prevent embracing online programs or change in general.
Citation: Ludwig S. (2018) Vysshee obrazovanie: opyt propagandista onlayn-obucheniya [Higher Learning: Lessons from an Online Advocate]. Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no4, pp. 167-187.