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

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The 2012 survey of online learning by the Babson Survey Group has recently been released.  The survey was conducted with the support of Sloan-C and Pearson.  The survey found that the number of students taking at least one online class has surpassed 6.7 million.  It also found that the adoption of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is low with most institutions sitting on the sidelines.

According to the report online growth “remains extremely robust,” even in a time declining enrollments in higher education overall. With regards to MOOCs, they found, “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.”

The key findings in the report are:

  • 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.

The report is availalbe here.

Or, here: changingcourse

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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