Perhaps this sounds familiar. You have students interested in enrolling at your college for basic general education courses. But with budget cuts and lower enrollments across the board, your faculty is maxed out and you can’t seem to fill your growing list of adjunct openings.
How do you serve these students without adding more strain to your faculty or your budget?
Many small colleges who are in this difficult situation are turning to online courses to fill in the gaps temporarily or provide flexible options to support students who need special accommodations.
Filling in the Gaps
Colleges spend a lot of time establishing and reviewing predictions for enrollments and capacity. But sometimes even those well-researched predictions can’t account for pandemics, social movements, and economic downturns.
At the same time students are choosing small colleges to be closer to family or opting for general education courses from a more affordable school, those schools are seeing faculty retirements and adjunct shortages. With budgets tight and teaching positions open, providing room for those students could mean adding them to an already full class or not offering the class and losing the enrollments entirely.
Online courses, especially ones that are already taught by high-quality instructors, can help colleges fill gaps in a college’s course catalog during hiring shortages. Whether a faculty member had to drop a class unexpectedly or a course had more enrollments than predicted, an online course can easily fix scheduling issues that pop up from semester to semester.
Creating Flexible Options
Students’ lives are more complicated now than they’ve ever been. Juggling work, school, and family is normal for college students, and this year has an additional layer of a global pandemic. With these complications, students want course delivery methods and schedules that can meet their needs.
Colleges are also getting creative with their schedules. As administrators reworked their calendars to keep students safe, many schools developed much shorter terms to fit between extended breaks, or during times that would normally be a break. These mini-mesters required flexibility and a little ingenuity on how the courses were designed and paced.
Using pre-built online courses with pacing guides, schools have what they need to be a little more flexible for students. Using the material as part of a blended curriculum for synchronous learning or to provide asynchronous options for students who need to learn on their own time, colleges can meet students where they are. Online courses also help schools give quality instruction while being proactive with shorter terms. Using online courses, schools learn what works and whether it makes sense to put the resources into building mini-mesters into their schedules long-term.
An Affordable Option with TEL
Jacksonville College in Texas came to TEL with a quandary. They had a faculty member retire unexpectedly at the start of the semester and they were already having trouble finding adjuncts for several other courses. With TEL, they were able to vet the course they needed, Introduction to Communication, make sure it aligned with the version of the course they’d offered previously, and had it open for enrollment in a matter of weeks. The TEL course provided an affordable option for Jacksonville College while they figured out their long-term staffing for the course.
Having too many students is a good problem to have, but can still be a tricky one to solve. Independence Community College in Kansas had nine students who needed Chemistry for the fall semester. Nine was not enough to open another section of the lab science, so they turned to TEL. Because TEL doesn’t have a minimum enrollment, Independence Community College’s nine students were able to complete their Chemistry course and stay on track with their degree program.
Arkansas State University Three Rivers was also trying to figure a few things out for the fall. They wanted to offer a handful of courses in an 8-week term, but they needed to move more quickly than a traditional course design and review process. After having their faculty and staff vet the courses from TEL, they were able to offer five courses for the shorter term without having to rush a course redesign.
Small colleges have been asked to look at all facets of their programs in order to help students learn and progress in their academic careers. Pre-built online courses provide the flexibility students and schools need while helping colleges fill in unexpected gaps in staffing.
To learn more about TEL’s course design process and what makes a TEL course high-quality, check out The TEL Difference.