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iDesign | News | CHLOE 3 Report

Fresh Insights Into Online Learning In Newly Released CHLOE 3 Report

CHLOE 3 breaks new ground in identifying five institutional models of online learning while providing a more complete picture of key strategic and operational initiatives


In its third year, the Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) Survey — a survey of Chief Online Officers (COOs) — experienced significant growth, with 280 U.S. colleges and universities responding, including public, private and for-profit institutions. That represents a 54% increase from CHLOE 2.

The results — now available in the report CHLOE 3: Behind the Numbers — reflect the strategic and operational evolution of online learning and provide important insight into online learning trends and developments, including the emergence of five institutional models of online learning.

“The developing picture of online learning models is a significant new finding,” said Ron Legon, QM Executive Director Emeritus and Co-lead of the CHLOE project. “These models — such as enterprise schools and community colleges — represent clusters of institutions based on shared characteristics, including online enrollment, institutional type, online management, pedagogy, and outcomes. These models are important because they help define the scope of what is typical — and what is possible — for similar institutions and may provide those institutions with a benchmark for their own practices, policies and strategies.”

According to Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer for Eduventures® Research, a division of ACT | NRCCUA, and Co-lead of the project, “CHLOE 3 also goes behind the online learning label to explore the nature of a typical course. We found a striking association between the required involvement of instructional designers or design teams and diversified online student interaction. Other things being equal, a systematic approach to online course design means a better student experience.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Online Growth — In an otherwise weak enrollment environment, online keeps growing. Median online enrollment growth among CHLOE 3 respondents was 10% between Spring 2017 and 2018.
  • Councils and Committees — The emergence of online-focused committees and councils in all sectors of online learning.
  • Neglect of Blended — Despite evidence of student demand for blended options, CHLOE 3 respondents reported that blended course enrollment growth is less prevalent than for fully online courses, and median growth rates are lower.
  • Alternatives — A significant interest in alternative models and credentials, but a lack of investment.

“This year’s report reflects the continued evolution of online learning from a tool for access and scale, toward a strategy to improve outcomes and equity at scale,” shared Whitney Kilgore, Chief Academic Officer at iDesign, CHLOE 3’s platinum sponsor.

Additional CHLOE 3 content includes:

  • A summary of Eric Fredericksen’s work in identifying the background, characteristics, and organizational placement of online learning leaders. Eric is the Associate Vice President for Online Learning at the University of Rochester.
  • Quotes from COOs on several contentious issues, including online governance and the role of instructional designers in online course development.

This report was made possible through the partnership of QM and Eduventures Research — a division of ACT® | NRCCUA® — and the support of sponsors iDesign, ExtensionEngine and Instructional Connections. To download the report, visit the Quality Matters website or the Eduventures Research website.

The co-authors of the report, Ron Legon for Quality Matters and Richard Garrett for Eduventures Research, are available for comment:

Ron Legon, Ph.D., Executive Director Emeritus, Quality Matters (rlegon (at) qualitymatters (dot) org; 312.545.2325)

Richard Garrett, Eduventures Chief Research Officer, ACT | NRCCUA (rgarrett (at) eduventures (dot) com; 617.704.8481)

About Quality Matters: Quality Matters (QM) is the global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. It provides a scalable quality assurance system for online and blended learning used within and across organizations. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review Criteria in a rigorous review process.

About ACT | NRCCUA:  Now part of ACT, The National Research Center for College and University Admissions is an educational data science and research organization serving over 1,900 member institutions comprised of public and private colleges and universities across the nation. For 45 years, NRCCUA has been a leading provider of data, technology, and programs serving students, high school educators, colleges and universities from its offices in Lee’s Summit, MO, Boston, MA, New York, NY, and Austin, TX. These solutions represent the link between students making important life decisions and those providing the resources and information they need to succeed in their post-secondary educations and careers. With the launch of Encoura Data Lab, the company now combines data science, advanced analytics, Eduventures research, predictive modeling and omnichannel enrollment services in one platform to enable institutions to make real-time strategic and operational decisions to meet their unique enrollment goals and create the highest probability of student success. For more information, visit ​

About iDesign:

iDesign partners with colleges and universities to build, grow and support online and blended programs. We are passionate about helping faculty harness the potential of emerging technologies to design courses and degrees that make an impact, whether they are fully online, flipped, blended, adaptive, or competency-based. Our unbundled, fee-for-service model is rooted in a commitment to flexibility and institutional autonomy, while our analytics platform supports continuous improvement through rigorous measurement of student engagement and course quality. From statewide university systems to private colleges, our custom solutions pair instructional design with technologies to enable great teaching. To learn more, please visit