Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climb on the iCollege Bandwagon

Barry Lenson

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climb on the iCollege Bandwagon

For reasons no one can really explain, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been slow to embrace online learning. Now that appears to be changing. In the recent economic downturn these institutions – like all others – have been looking for more efficient ways to deliver their educational products.

Now we learn that HBCUs are moving faster to embrace online learning. Two recent publications tell the news:

“Modest Gains for Black Colleges Online,” an article in Inside Higher Ed, observes that “An increasing number of historically Black institutions are wading into the online medium . . . Still, the vast majority of HBCUs do not offer online programs.”

“HBCU Distance Learning 2010,” a study from Howard University’s Digital Learning Lab, explores the state of Black distance learning in depth. Dr. Roy L. Beasley, author of the report, points to the following statistics:

  • Online degree programs are growing fast at HBCUs. In the fall semester of the 2010-2011 academic year, 19 HBCUs were offering online degrees. That represents a 58 percent increase over the number of HBCUs that were offering online degrees in the fall semester of 2006.
  • Public HBCUs currently offer more online degrees than private HBCUs do. However, private HBCUs are increasing their online programs more quickly than public HBCUs are. Thirteen public HBCUs were offering online degrees in the fall of 2010, compared to six private HBCUs. However, three times as many private HBCUs offered online degrees in 2010 than did in 2006.

Have HBCUs really been slower to embrace distance learning courses than other institutions have been? Did they get a late start? It’s hard to find hard statistics that compare them to all other American colleges and universities.

But we do know that everywhere you look, colleges and universities of all kinds are turning to iCollege learning. “E-Learning Increases More than 25 Percent,” a recent article in The News Record, a paper published by the students at the University of Cincinnati, points out that, “Enrollments for online courses increased more than 25 percent in Fall 2009, as 18,927 new students signed up for distance learning at the 37 schools involved with the University System of Ohio …Overall student enrollment for Ohio in distance learning classes was 93,653 for Fall 2009.”

So we see that online learning is not a black or white thing. In the current educational climate, it is THE thing. That is why so many institutions of all kinds are climbing aboard.


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