Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States

The tenth 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 2,800 academic leaders, the complete survey report, "Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States" can be downloaded hereRead the press release

Full report available here

 

The 2012 Survey of Online Learning reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million. Higher education adoption of Massive Open Online Courses remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines.

"The rate of growth in online enrollments remains extremely robust," said study co-author Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group. "This is somewhat surprising given that overall higher education enrollments actually declined during this period."

"Institutional opinions on MOOCs are mixed, with positive views of their ability to learn about online pedagogy and to attract new students, but concerns about whether they represent a sustainable method for offering courses," stated his co-author I. Elaine Allen.

Key report findings include:

  • Over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year.
  • Thirty-two percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.

  • Only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently have a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), another 9.4 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.

  • Academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses, but do believe that they provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy.
  • Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face.
  • Only 30.2 percent of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education - a rate is lower than recorded in 2004.
  • The proportion of chief academic leaders that say that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at a new high of 69.1 percent.

  • A majority of chief academic officers at all types of institutions continue to believe that lower retention rates for online courses are a barrier to the wide-spread adoption of online education.

Previously underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the report has been able to remain independent through the generous support of Pearson and the Sloan Consortium.