A new study of United States distance learning finds that more students than ever are taking college and university courses on line —a 17 percent jump from 2007 to 2008.
Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009 is the seventh annual survey of online learning development produced by the Sloan Consortium. The study is based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities.
Some key findings:
- In the fall of 2008, more than 4.6 million students took at least one online distance course—a 17 percent increase over the previous year.
- More than a quarter of all higher education students now take at least one online course accredited by a legitimate college or university.
- Colleges and universities report increased demand for courses. The most interest is for college or university courses on line: 45 percent of schools say they see more demand for face-to-face classes, while 73 percent report increased online distance course demand.
Surprisingly, the Sloan report found teacher acceptance rates for distance education declined slightly, despite evidence showing online education holds its own when compared with traditional education. About 3 percent fewer faculty members in the new survey “accept the value and legitimacy of online education,” according to the report. In all, about 30 percent say that the advantages of e learning are valid and legitimate; 50 percent are neutral; and about 17 percent (up from 14 percent in 2007) say they do not agree.
Yet an increasing number of chief executive officers of educational institutions rate online learning advantages as equal to or better than traditional education. The study found that CEOs of schools with no online programs are least likely to consider online learning effective, while those from schools with programs in place were more likely to perceive online learning diploma courses outcomes as equal or superior to face-to-face programs.
The complete Sloan report on United States distance learning is available for free at the Sloan Consortium website.
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