Four Things Students Want from their Online Programs

According to Ed Tech, online college students make up at least 25% of the total student population attending college in the United States. Traditional higher education enrollments decrease, while online enrollments continue to increase. Driving the influx of online college enrollments is a demanding and tech savvy student body. A study recently conducted by The Learning House surveyed about 1,500 online students and asked them questions regarding how they feel about online learning, whether they have any regrets, and other important factors in choosing an online college program. Below are some of the key findings from the report.


Students want to…


Be part of a community. Even though students seem to be drawn by online education’s flexibility, they still like to form interactions/relationships with both their professors and fellow students. This calls for an increase in collaboration, discussions, as well as instructor presence, all of which are issues we have addressed here on the Insider.

Have options on where to attend. Although the majority of online students tend to enroll in college or universities that are in relatively close proximity to their homes, the survey found that a majority of students (52% to be exact) researched at least 3 or more schools before deciding on which one to attend. This means online units within the university can benefit from expanding their marketing to reach potential students that have not been traditionally recruited. FIU Online has continued to stay on the cutting edge of marketing research and is always looking for new ways to expand our brand.

Have support along the way. Approximately 59% of the students surveyed stated that they would change some part of their search for an online program if doing it over again. As universities continue to increase their online degree offerings, they must push for more transparency to allow students to make the best possible choice for their future. With student success coaches, online support services, and an enrollment counselor that guides our students every step of the way, FIU Online is implementing the necessary steps to help our students make the best possible choice.

Have a say in their learning through Competency Based Education and Adaptive Learning. Online students are aware of emerging educational technology trends, most of which becomes familiar through previous K-12 experiences. Universities need to be progressive in implementing personalized learning tools and techniques that give online students the chance to learn on their own terms. Currently, FIU Online is creating entire degree programs utilizing an adaptive learning platform.


Given the prominence of online education that seems to be occurring through higher education, it is not unfathomable to imagine a future in higher education where online students make up half or more of all students enrolled in colleges and universities. Many of the online students that universities serve are non-traditional, meaning we should work in nontraditional ways to educate and empower these students.With this in mind, every university should try to embrace this potential outcome by continuing to strive for innovation with quality.



Report: One in Four Students Enrolled in Online Courses – EDTech Magazine

Online College Students 2017 – Learning House

Additional Resources


Luis Alvarado was a FIU Online instructional designer (2015-2018). His expertise includes the areas of emerging technology, learning theories, 21st Century instructional design models, user experience, and the incorporation of diverse modes of media into online courses. Luis applies sound instructional strategies developed through experience gained in higher education and government. He effectively structures course content, provides expert technical support, and advises faculty on the latest learning and interactive multimedia technology.