Jun 1, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The findings from a recent study by Arizona State University and the Boston Consulting Group suggest that online classes are less expensive than traditional classes because they're larger and can hire less expensive instructors. 

The study, called Making Digital Work, examined how colleges can improve outcomes with digital technology.

The authors describe the report as "in-depth case studies of six major institutions of higher education that have been pioneers in digital learning."

The six institutions represent public research universities with different populations, two community colleges, and a state-wide community college system. They all have a record of serving diverse populations using digital technology.

The goal? To examine the ROI of digital learning. 

The study determined that when colleges and universities have a strategy to invest in digital learning and high-quality programming, they can achieve three goals:

1. Improved learning outcomes, which allow students to earn their degrees faster

2. Improved access to higher education, particularly for disadvantaged students.

3. Improved finances--colleges and universities can grow their revenues and reduce overall operating costs. 

The Boston Consulting Group concluded, "Colleges and universities that want to increase enrollment, expand access to high-quality education, and improve student performance—all at lower cost—should strongly consider investing in the improvement and scaled enterprise implementation of high-quality digital learning. "

Learn more about online education. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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