How Much Should Your Online Education Cost?
Digital learning is more than a fad. It has become a preference.
The interest in online education has grown significantly over the last decade. Enrollment has been increasing by 17% annually, and one out of every three college students has taken an online course.
There’s much to love about online education. It’s a convenient way to attend class, and digital learning offers many of the perks you’d see in a traditional classroom, like socialization and student response opportunities. Online education has the additional benefit of engaging students through gamification and simulations.
The only thing amiss about the online education experience is the price. Online education is expensive.
Usually, supply and demand lower the costs of a product or service. More people want online education, and as a result, vendors have stepped in to supply the market. Economic theory tells us that the price for the service should go down, but that’s not the case with online education.
It’s still a significant investment.
Why is online education so expensive?
We’ve come to expect a lot from technology. After all, the digital age has inculcated the idea that we should be sharing everything. Online education, however, isn’t based on shareware. Other factors determine the cost of online learning. Some of these factors, like the creation of the courses, are less apparent.
A single hour of online content can take as many as 160 hours to produce, at a total cost of approximately $10,000. Courses that are 30 or more hours in length can become expensive quickly. In addition to the research required, design and delivery, and project management, vendors must also consider how they will support their online courses and stay current in the marketplace.
The companies that produce these courses are from the business sector. They are profit-oriented. They have to be if they want to stay in business. If it’s a publically held company, their shareholders demand it. However, there’s another cost factor: the Online Program Manager (OPM). The OPM serves as the liaison between the online education company and the school, making sure that everything runs smoothly. If it doesn’t, the OPM intervenes and makes it right.
For this tireless work, the OPM earns a salary, and that also must be added to the online education program cost.
How much should online education cost?
Even though online education can seem expensive, it may still be more cost-effective than taking courses in person at the campus.
The cost per hour may be slightly less than traditional classroom instruction, but tuition isn’t the only savings when it comes to online education. The college student who attends online classes may be able to save thousands on housing, transportation, fees for unnecessary services like the health center, and even meals while at school. That can make taking on the added expense of course development and deployment seem more reasonable.
Actual costs for online education vary by region and program, but it may still be worth looking into online education.