Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011

   

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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" can be downloaded here.

 

Full report available here

 

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.

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.