Online Education Study: As Enrollment Rises, Institutions see Online Education as a ‘Critical Part’ of Growth


Online education continues to rise, with roughly 6.1 million college students having taken an online course in the fall semester of 2010, according to a report by the Babson Survey Research Group, (formerly the Sloan Online Survey), which was released earlier this month.

Institutions of higher learning increasingly embrace online education, with 65.5 percent of chief academic officers now calling online education “critical” to their institution’s long-term strategy, an opinion that’s risen more than 15 percent over eight years. Sixty-seven percent believe academic outcomes from online classes are equivalent to those in face-to-face learning, but still, one-third of academic leaders think online classes are inferior.

“Obviously institutions themselves are moving towards incorporating online learning, largely for two reasons,” says Vicky Phillips, CEO of GetEducated.com. “One is that consumer demand continues to outstrip availability, and also, it’s much more cost-effective than building more brick and mortar campuses.”

Nearly one-third of all college students have taken part in online classrooms in the past year, the new figures show. Compared to the 3.9 million students who had done so in the fall of 2007, it’s a 63 percent increase among online learners in just three years’ time.

 

Growth of enrollment for online education was 10 percent in the past year, and though at a slower rate than in previous years, it continues to surpass the growth of traditional higher education, which was just 2 percent.

Despite the shift in the acceptance of online education among academic institutions, faculty acceptance over the past eight years has barely registered.


The “value and legitimacy of online education” is reportedly only accepted by 32 percent of faculty, the findings show, compared to a 27.6 percent rate of faculty acceptance in 2002.

“The very same thing that causes faculty to reject online learning is what brings non-traditional students into online degree programs all the time. Both face a need to retool their skills,” says Phillips.

 



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