If ALN is worth the time and money we are spending on it, we must see an uplifting of today’s nearly 16 million learners in U.S. higher education, said Frank Mayadas, asking the Sloan-C listserv this question:
Suppose in 10 years we have successfully uplifted the number of undergraduate enrollments from around 16M to 20M. Suppose also that in 10 years time, we have a situation where on average, each of the 20M takes at least one class online. We might in that case have achieved "10 in 10," a 10-fold increase in ALN within 10 years. The question is this: is "10 in 10" a good goal for us, collectively, to strive for? How can Sloan most effectively support work to get us there? What would be the right metrics?
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects that higher education enrollment is likely to increase from nearly 16 million in 2004  to 18.2 million by 2013, with a 21% increase in female enrollments and 15% increase in male enrollments . In relation to ALN, the near doubling of distance education enrollments from 1.7 to 3.1 million from 1997 to 2000 , and the belief of higher education leaders in the quality of online education  are indicators of the growing value of anytime anywhere learning to users and providers.
Certain factors suggest that ALN may enable more learners to access higher education. These factors include the cultural and economic changes introduced by internet communications and accessibility, technological innovations including more affordable connectivity, and growing awareness of pedagogical resources and practices that can erase barriers to learning in a preK-16 educational continuum.
General access to internet communications is rapidly increasing. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) used census data in October 2000 to estimate that 41.5% of U.S. households had internet access and 58% had computers; by some 2004 estimates, 67.6% of the U.S. population uses the internet . In March 2004, the president called for universal, affordable broadband access throughout the nation by 2007. In August 2004, broadband connections reached 51% of the American online at-home population, as compared to 38% a year ago .
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