Online Learning Program Types and Characteristics

The characteristics of your program will depend on the purposes and goals you’ve established. Numerous variables such as the geographic reach of the program, whether it is full time or part time, or whether you should require face time, further define your program and support its goals.

With the issue of geographic reach is the potential of your program crossing school, district, and state boundaries. Here are some questions to consider as you are making decisions regarding the geographic reach of your program.

Most of the characteristics you will define are not either/or questions, but exist on a continuum. Critical characteristics may also evolve over time. For example, programs often face the question of whether to builid their own courses or to purchase or license them from other sources. You might choose to license them initially, then as your program grows and your teachers become more experienced, you might continue to license some low enrollment courses, purchase some high-enrollment courses and develop customized or unique courses in house.

The figure Attributes of Online Programs provides a set of continua of program characteristics that will help your organization have the discussions necessary to more carefully design your program.4

References for footnotes can be found on the resources page or click on the footnote number for a direct link.