release_date:November 9, 2011 - 8am
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New Study: Over 6 million Students Learning Online
Proportion of students taking an online course continues to grow
(Wellesley, MA) – The 2011 Survey of Online Learning reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million. Now nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course.
“The rate of growth in online enrollments is ten times that of the rate in all higher education” said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group and Professor of Statistics & Entrepreneurship at Babson College. “While growth rates have declined somewhat from previous years, we see no evidence that a dramatic slowdown in online enrollments is on the horizon.”
"There is a wide variety in rate of growth of online enrollments among different colleges and universities, and also among different programs within the same institution. For example, fully online health sciences programs show higher growth than online programs in other disciplines.”
Key report findings include:
• 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.
• Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
• 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.
• 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.
The ninth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, the complete survey report, “Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011” is available at
Previously underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the report has been able to remain independent through the generous support of Pearson, Kaplan University, Inside Higher Ed and the Sloan Consortium. As a result of the partnership with Pearson the free distribution of the report this year will for the first time include an option for an eBook version.
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has global reach and market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing. The company provides innovative print and digital education materials, including personalized learning programs such as MyLab and Mastering; educational services including custom publishing; and content-independent platforms including the EQUELLA digital repository and Pearson LearningStudio for online learning programs.
The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) is an institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online education into the mainstream of higher education, helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale, and breadth of online education.
Kaplan University offers a different school of thought for higher education. It strives to help adult students unlock their talent by providing a practical, student-centered education that prepares them for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries. The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Inside Higher Ed is the leading source of free news, opinion, blogs and jobs for all of higher education. More than 900,000 unique visitors flock to its website each month for breaking news and feature stories, provocative daily commentary, areas for comment on every article, practical career columns, and a powerful suite of tools to help higher education professionals get jobs and colleges identify and hire employees.
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association is composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.
The Babson Survey Research Group in the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurial Research at Babson College conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses and reporting. http://www.babson.edu/Academics/centers/blank-center/global-research/Pages/babson-survey-research-group.aspx