The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) Project

The CHLOE project looks at the structure and organization of postsecondary online education in the U.S., as it becomes increasingly mainstream. As online learning moves from an experimental phase to an established institutional function, CHLOE documents steps to achieve stability, reliability, and consistency. 

Survey Pool

In contrast to other surveys, CHLOE seeks the insight and perspective of the senior online officer at each participating institution in the belief that this individual has a unique vantage point from which to assess online learning at their institution.

Eduventures and QM Collaboration

In 2016, Eduventures Research and Quality Matters formed a partnership to fill a gap in the research related to online education by focusing on how it is being carried out at postsecondary institutions across the United States. The first CHLOE Survey was conducted in 2016 and resulted In the 2017 CHLOE 1 Report.

The research team

The research team includes Co-Directors Ron Legon, Executive Director Emeritus, Quality Matters, and Richard Garrett, Eduventures Chief Research Officer, ACT | NRCCUA, Contributing Editor Eric Fredericksen, Associate Vice President for Online Learning, the University of Rochester, Mughees Khan, Senior Analyst at Eduventures Research, and Barbra Burch, Research Manager at Quality Matters. Beginning with CHLOE 5, Bethany Simunich, QM Director of Research and Innovation, will join the team.

The Reports

CHLOE 4 cover

2020 CHLOE 4: Navigating the Mainstream

The number of participants in CHLOE continued to grow in this fourth year, up 31% from participation in CHLOE 3. 

CHLOE 4 added a sixth type to the list of models used to categorize the way institutions manage online education: Flagship - The leading 4-year public universities, with research and public service roles, as designed by their home states and recognized by the Association of American Universities, with fewer than 7,500 fully and partly online students. 

Respondents to CHLOE 4 included 20 of the 60 Flagship schools in the U.S. (33%). Some surprising contrasts with other sectors emerge from a first look at Flagship institutions.

CHLOE 4 continued coverage from the earlier CHLOE surveys and found, for example, that use of OPMs doubled from 12% to 24% between 2017 and 2019. It confirmed findings from the earlier reports, such as the finding that “enterprise” institutions — those that already have the largest online enrollments at more than 7,500 fully and partly online students — have the most aggressive plans for program expansion and that the course development process is largely internal, with heavy dependence on faculty and less consistent involvement of instructional designers. 

CHLOE 4 dug deeper with more open-ended questions about such issues as long-term institutional goals and the relationships of chief online officers with other senior administrators. The top three goals for online education over the coming five years listed by chief online officers are:

  • Improved Quality
  • Increased Enrollment
  • Added Courses and Programs


2019 CHLOE 3 Report: Behind the Numbers

CHLOE 3 broke new ground in identifying a number of different institutional approaches to online learning, as crystalized in the descriptions of five models (Enterprise schools, Regional Public and Regional Private 4-Year schools, 4-Year schools with Low Online Enrollment, and Community Colleges). Major themes in CHLOE 3 include a more complete picture of the growth, prevalence, and scope of the Chief Online Officer position; the emergence of online committees and councils as a component of institutional shared governance; associations between online course structure, student engagement and outcomes; and the widespread neglect of coordinated blended learning.

CHLOE 2 Report cover

2018 CHLOE 2 Report: A Deeper Dive

CHLOE 2 (2017) saw participation increase by 75% over the CHLOE 1 (2016) Survey. The larger sample confirmed major findings of the first survey on such mainstream issues as: widespread perceptions that online learning is a revenue generator, increasing competition, and reliance on institutional budgeting processes to meet the needs of online learning. This report delves into more detail than that of the CHLOE 1 Report with a focus on the motives behind the choices made by leaders of online programs.

2017 CHLOE 1 Report

The 2017 CHLOE Report, “The Changing Landscape of Online Education,” establishes baseline information on important trends in the management of online learning, current and emerging tools and methods in the field, regulation and accreditation challenges, and quality assurance activities. The CHLOE Survey, upon which the report is based, sets the stage for wider discussion of these issues.