The future of higher ed is digital. And physical.

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The future of higher ed is digital. And physical.

Higher ed is working to strike the perfect balance between online learning and face-to-face learning, Jeffrey Selingo writes for The Atlantic.

Students are enrolling more and more in online courses—both for flexibility and cost—but there are challenges to learning exclusively in a virtual setting. Students benefit from the physical component of education, like personal relationships with professors and peers and shared workspaces to meet and collaborate. That’s why many colleges and education providers are working to offer physical, tangible learning experiences to online students.

For example, online-degree provider 2U recently partnered with co-working firm WeWork to provide online students with a space to gather and hold meetings. “Many of our students have young families,” Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U, explains. “They can’t pick up and move to a campus, yet often need the facilities of one.”

On the flip side, residential students increasingly want the flexibility of online courses. At the University of Central Florida (UCF), students can choose to take certain large, lecture classes online or face-to-face—and they can even switch from one to the other partway through the term.

UCF’s students appreciate the setup because they’re so busy outside the classroom; many are involved in campus life and about 50% work at least 20 hours per week. And it’s also a win for the university, which can enroll more students without having to build more classrooms and lecture halls.

For students, it feels natural to blur the line between online and on campus. Richard DeMillo, executive director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, recalls students in an online master’s program attending university-affiliated events in their hometowns—and even showing up to campus for commencement. “Students don’t have a problem blending the two experiences, either for efficiency or because they are digital natives.”

Students today—many of whom belong to Gen Z—grew up with digital technology, making them the first “digital pioneers.” One generational expert uses the word “phigital” to describe the world of Gen Z—meaning that every physical part of the Generation Z world has a digital equivalent, and they don’t always distinguish between them in the ways that earlier generations did

Sources: Selingo, The Atlantic, 4/16/18; Young, EdSurge, 3/21/17

We surveyed nearly 1,000 current and prospective students of graduate, online, certificate, and undergraduate degree completion programs. Their answers revealed many surprising findings—and ones that have significant implications for enrollment and recruitment leaders.

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