A new study by Babson Survey Research Group reveals that online learning is growing. This stands in contrast to overall enrollment in traditional colleges and universities, which fell (albeit less than .1 percent) for the first time in the survey’s 10-year history.
The study, titled “Changing Courses: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States,” examines online learning in the U.S.
MOOCs Included in Online Learning Survey for First Time
Babson also surveyed institutional officials for their take on massive open online courses (MOOCs). This is the first time that MOOCs were included in the research study.
Only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently offer a MOOC, with 10 percent planning to add them. The study found that the majority of schools—55 percent—remain undecided on whether to add MOOCs or not. Babson's research also found that institutions with existing online courses and programs make up the majority of schools planning to offer MOOCs.
Number of Online Students Grows
Although enrollment at traditional brick-and-mortar schools has slowed down, the number of online students is still growing.
The Babson survey revealed that online enrollees have increased by 9.3 percent. As of Fall 2011, more than 6.7 million post-secondary students have taken an online course—roughly one-third of all post-secondary students.
Other survey highlights include:
- Nearly 70 percent of all higher education institutions reported online education was critical to their long-term strategy
- The online enrollment growth rate of 9.3 percent is the lowest recorded in the Babson report series
- However, the proportion of all students taking at least one online course is at an all-time high of 32 percent
- Only 30.2 percent of chief academic officers believe their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education—lower than the rate recorded in 2004
- 77 percent rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face
The survey revealed an interesting balancing act between online learning popularity—especially with students—and educators’ desire for legitimacy and value in a degree.
The survey was done in conjunction with the Sloan Consortium and Pearson. Read the entire "Changing Course" survey for a more in-depth look at online learning.
About Rachel Wang
Rachel Wang is a writer, editor and producer with a background in journalism and online media. She holds a master's degree in library and information science and specializes in online learning news and trends for the Get Educated news team.