This week we’re focusing in on a school that’s evolved from a non player in online education just 10 years ago into one of the most forward edge of all non-profit schools that offer digital learning.
Southern New Hampshire University, an 80-year old private school not to be confused with the state’s public university system, has clearly shed any institutional resistance to teaching over the internet. The rap against non-profits for years has been that they can’t complete with Phoenix, Capella and other leaders in the space because professors and administrators don’t want their world (and their tenure system) rocked by the changes it tends to bring. But SNHU’s president has managed to get the school fully engaged in online teaching, and has brought in tech upgrades that make it very competitive with the for-profit school – and that leverage the kind of one on one care that’s the hallmark of private colleges.
A new software system at the school, for example, tracks a raft of factors that affect student success metrics, right down to how much each online student is contributing to boards that host class discussions. Student advisers are warned automatically if a student starts to slip. Even teacher involvement in the overall online class experience is tracked closely.
It’s a refreshing case of a school focusing on what happens after the students enroll rather than on recruitment. The results look good so far: the percentage of students who continue on to a second year of classes after finishing their first has doubled at the school since 2008.
SNHU does make money on its programs, and it’s not hesitant to talk about its long term “business plans” in digital teaching. But without the kind of pressure to drive higher and higher profits that some if its competitors face, it seems well positioned as a lead dog that’s going to show other non-profits how to succeed with students who learn off-campus.
SNHU focuses largely on master’s degrees online:
- 40 MBA programs
- Numerous International MBA degrees
- MA’s in various aspects of Creative Writing
- MS in Justice Studies
- MS in Information Technology, various specialties