A Framework for Strategic Planning Concerning Online Education at Chapman University
Following a period during the COVID-19 pandemic when Chapman University was forced to deliver its education remotely, coupled with the sale of Brandman University, its at-scale online entity, Chapman entered a de facto online era for higher education without a plan or strategy for online learning. This doctoral capstone project provides Chapman with a customized framework to strategize and decide how best to move forward with online education. A Policy Analyses Framework (PAF) developed by King et al. (2000), served as the foundational structure to design a mixed methods research approach. Researchers interviewed 49 individuals among Chapman’s leadership and faculty; surveyed 1037 students, faculty, and staff; and interviewed 22 students. Researchers found substantial interest for online courses to provide more flexibility/convenience, accessibility, and lower costs; but not to the degree that it creates isolation, exhaustion, or causes the students to question whether they are receiving a resident educational experience. Furthermore, the faculty and students prefer hybrid versus fully online degrees and/or programs. Researchers also found that any planning process concerning online education would require capturing the complexities of the University’s mission and culture. Lastly, the majority of faculty supports including online graduate education in the University’s strategic plan.