Survey Results:

E-Learning and Education Abroad


The survey was conducted in May, 2013 and was sent to 470 of the Forum's institutional members and program provider organizations. 151 institutions (32%) responded. (All types of Universities = 79; Liberal Arts Colleges = 59; Community Colleges = 7; Education Abroad Program Providers = 6). The survey defined e-learning as the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies in education; e-learning is broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology in learning and teaching.


Survey response rates (approximation) broken out by institutional type:

Liberal Arts Colleges = 41% response rate

Universities = 32% response rate

Community Colleges = 35%

Education Abroad Program Providers = 9%

The survey reveals that a majority of institutions view e-learning as an opportunity for education abroad (71%) rather than as a challenge (18%) or problem (6%). Only 4% of institutions report that e-learning is a strength of their education abroad programs.



Looking at the data more closely, we see that different types of institutions have varying views on this question. 76% of universities view e-learning as an opportunity; 16% view it as a challenge; 5% view e-learning as a problem, while 3% of universities report that it is a strength of their education abroad programs.



In comparison, 59% of liberal arts colleges view e-learning as an opportunity; 27% as a challenge; 10% view it as a problem, and 4% of liberal arts colleges report that e-learning is a strength of their education abroad programs.



All 7 of the community colleges that responded to the survey report that they view e-learning as an opportunity while 4 of the 6 provider organizations that responded see e-learning as an opportunity and 2 view it as a challenge.


The survey results show that e-learning is being used by about half of all institutions participating in the survey, with 52% of institutions reporting that they use e-learning in education abroad while 46% do not.


The differences between universities and liberal arts colleges are less dramatic on this question, with the majority of both universities and liberal arts colleges reporting that they are using e-learning in education abroad.


Does your institution or organization use e-learning in education abroad?



How is e-learning being used? In a number of different ways, with the most popular being students using technology to access learning resources while abroad (65%). This is followed by the practice of using online modules or courses as part of pre-departure and re-entry programs (44%); using technology to support student learning as a formal part of the program (41%); professors on the home campus using technology to communicate with students abroad to help direct their learning (39%); students having the option of taking an online course while abroad (36%); and students being required to take an online course while abroad (4%).



Which of the following best describes how your institution’s students formally use e-learning in education abroad? (check all that apply)




Please feel free to share any thoughts on e-learning and education abroad, especially what you consider to be innovative applications. (Selected comments - Forum members may view the complete report here.)


This is hard to discuss since the faculty at our institution are dead set against online courses being a part of our curriculum. Blended learning may be something we see in the future, but I doubt that we will ever provide fully electronic or online courses.


Technophilia and technophobia are both dangerous pathologies and nowhere more so, in both cases, than in int'l ed. Links to the home campus academic environment can be useful in certain specific ways but should not be seen as an automatic good in themselves. Interculturality is as much about rupture and hiatus as continuity, and this should be kept in mind on this question!


An online course paired with a short-term program abroad is an essential part of our program portfolio.


We are trying to do more with this for pre-departure, while abroad, and re-entry.


I'd love to see more information sharing on this topic and the development of best practices down the line. It is clearly an inevitable part of the future and yet there are some major logistical and pedagogical questions to consider.