Online Nation: Five Years of Growth In Online Education

Online Nation

The 2007 survey of online education conducted by the Babson Research Survey Group is now available.  The research was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  The survey represents the responses of over 2,500 colleges and universities and addresses these key questions:

How Many Students are Learning Online?:

  • Almost 3.5 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2006 term; a nearly 10 percent increase over the number reported the previous year.
  • The 9.7 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.5 percent growth of the overall higher education student population.
  • Nearly twenty percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2006.

Where has the Growth In Online Learning Occurred?:

  • Two-year associate’s institutions have the highest growth rates and account for over one-half of all online enrollments for the last five years.
  • Baccalaureate institutions began the period with the fewest online enrollments and have had the lowest rates of growth.

Why do Institutions Provide Online Offerings?:

  • All types of institutions cite improved student access as their top reason for offering online courses and programs.
  • Institutions that are the most engaged in online education cite increasing the rate of degree completion as a very important objective; this is not as important for institutions that are not as engaged in online learning.
  • Online is not seen as a way to lower costs; reduced or contained costs are among the least-cited objectives for online education.
  • The appeal of online instruction to non-traditional students is indicated by the high number of institutions which cite growth in continuing and/or professional education as an objective for their online offerings.

What are the Prospects for Future Online Enrollment Growth?:

  • Much of the past growth in online enrollments has been fueled by new institutions entering the online learning arena. This transition is now nearing its end; most institutions that plan to offer online education are already doing so.
  • A large majority (69 percent) of academic leaders believe that student demand for online learning is still growing.
  • Virtually all (83 percent) institutions with online offerings expect their online enrollments to increase over the coming year.
  • Future growth in online enrollments will most likely come from those institutions that are currently the most engaged; they enroll the most online learning students and have the highest expectations for growth.

What are the Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Online Education?:

  • Academic leaders cite the need for more discipline on the part of online students as the most critical barrier, matching the results of last year’s survey.
  • Faculty acceptance of online instruction remains a key issue. Those institutions most engaged in online do not believe it is a concern for their own campus, but do see it as a barrier to more wide-spread adoption of online education.
  • Higher costs for online development and delivery are seen as barriers among those who are planning online offerings, but not among those who have online offerings.
  • Academic leaders do not believe that there is a lack of acceptance of online degrees by potential employers.


The full report is available here.

Or, here: online-nation

Checklist for Evaluating Onlne Courses – SREB

Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses Icon - SREB

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has released their rubric for assessing online courses: Checklist for Evaluating Online Courses.  The SREB is an educational technology cooperative in Atlanta, GA.

This description is from the introduction:

This checklist is based on the SREB report Standards for Quality Online Courses and is designed to assist states and schools in determining the quality and effectiveness of online courses. It is suggested that each course be rated on the extent to which it meets the criteria, with 3 indicating that a course does not meet the criteria and 1 indicating that it does. This evaluation is key to ensuring that online courses provide students with access to quality instruction and resources.

The rubric is available here, or here.

Standards for Quality Online Courses – SREB

Standards for Quality Online Courses Icon

The Southern Regional Education Board has released its Standards for Quality Online Courses, which provides the structure of their online course rubric (available here). From the Introduction: “The SREB publication Standards for Quality Online Teaching outlines 11 standards states can use to guide academic preparation, content knowledge, online skills and delivery, and other elements of quality online teaching. As a companion report, this publication examines the essential components of quality online courses in the context of today’s learners and the increased emphasis on accountability. It also addresses the need for state-level policies regarding online course quality.”

The booklet is available here, or here.