Online education allows the State University System (SUS) of Florida to expand its portfolio of offerings to meet the needs of its diverse constituent base. Increased and convenient access to higher education, regardless of where students may live or their family or work obligations, helps to create a strong workforce and to attract businesses that provide high-skill, high-wage jobs that drive today’s economy.
A blend of talented, well-prepared faculty members, modern learning technologies, and well-designed online courses and programs creates opportunities to improve pedagogies, engage faculty in the scholarship of teaching and learning, increase student academic success, and accelerate time-to degree. At scale, online education provides colleges and universities the means to significantly expand access to education far beyond the capacity and geographic limits of their brick-and-mortar infrastructure. These all combine to reduce barriers of opportunity and capacity, lowering the overall cost of delivering a quality education to all who may wish to receive it.
This 2025 SUS Strategic Plan for Online Education outlines goals and strategies that, when successfully pursued, will result in improved instruction and increased educational opportunities, leading to a greater number of Florida citizens holding valuable academic credentials and more efficient use of existing campuses while expanding access far beyond their borders. Increased online education will also help make our institutions more sustainable by limiting energy consumption, and the time and fuel students would expend driving to and from class.
The Plan provides a framework around which to unite the collective talents and resources of Florida’s universities toward a common purpose: more Florida citizens with educational credentials that will improve their lives, lead to new discoveries, and advance Florida’s economy.
Development of the Plan
At its November 2014 meeting, the Board of Governors Innovation and Online Committee directed that a task force be created to strategically plan for online education in the SUS. President John Hitt, University of Central Florida, agreed to chair the Task Force for Strategic Planning for Online Education, whose membership of thirteen included five university presidents and four provosts, as well as representation from faculty, students, Complete Florida/Florida Virtual Campus, and the Florida College System’s Council of Presidents.
Governor Ned Lautenbach, chair of the Innovation and Online Committee, charged the Task Force with focusing on three primary elements: quality, access, and affordability. The Task Force created workgroups to focus on each of these respective areas, directing them to develop strategies for advancing online education in Florida. The Task Force and its workgroups held a total of 22 meetings to develop the draft Plan. In September 2015, a draft was sent to members of the following groups for their review and feedback:
- Council of Academic Vice Presidents (CAVP)
- Council of Student Affairs (CSA)
- Council for Administrative and Financial Affairs (CAFA)
- Florida Virtual Campus, Members Council for Distance Learning and Student Services (FCS and SUS)
- Florida College System Council of Presidents
- Governmental Relations Staff
- Advisory Council of Faculty Senates
On November 4, 2015, the Task Force presented its revised draft Plan to the Board’s Innovation and Online Committee, where it was unanimously approved and forwarded to the Board for its consideration. On November 5, 2015, the Board unanimously approved the Plan.