New Study: Nearly One-Third of All College Students Are Now Taking Courses Online

Barry Lenson

New Study: Nearly One-Third of All College Students Are Now Taking Courses Online

If you think that American students and colleges are embracing online study slowly, perhaps it’s time for you to think again.

"The rate of growth in online enrollments is 10 times that of the rate in all higher education," says Elaine Allen, co-author of “Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011,” a study released by The Sloan Consortium.

We’re talking about a major study here, based on data from a large number of colleges and universities. A total of 4,523 institutions were invited to take part, and 2,512 agreed and submitted data.

So, what did the study determine about online learning? Here are the key findings . . .

  • Thirty-one percent of all higher education students now take at least one college course online.
  • Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.
  • The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing.
  • Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses.
  • 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.

Yet there is still resistance to online learning, as these findings show . . .

  • There continues to be a consistent minority of academic leaders concerned that the quality of online instruction is not equal to courses delivered face-to-face.
  • Less than one-third of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accepts the value and legitimacy of online education.  This percent has changed little over the last eight years.

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