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The Rise of Online Higher Education: Institutional Advancement Implications and Imperatives

The world of higher education is rapidly evolving. Online learning and massive open online courses (“MOOCs”) are growing in popularity, allowing a campus-less college experience to become a reality. Much of higher education has been concerned with the sector-wide ramifications of this trend, however, there has been very little research or discussion about the implications for institutional advancement.

Alumni loyalty has traditionally stemmed from a physical experience and personal relationships that develop therefrom. If you do not have a “class” that you belong to but rather a degree that you receive without being part of a physical group at all, where will identity come from? What collective experience, if any, can advancement offices capitalize on to inspire school affinity and philanthropic action? It is crucial that institutional advancement professionals begin to address these questions and develop new strategies for the coming years.

This report explores the MOOC and online learning through the lens of individual philanthropy and institutional advancement, and the possibilities and challenges presented. In order to preserve the role of institutional advancement in higher education, it is critical to chart and understand this transformational reality. By doing so, this report on the rise of online higher education provides real and actionable counsel and recommendations for the immediate future.