This week, Sloan-C shared the 11th Annual survey about online learning in higher education in the United States, a collaboration between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the Untied States, 2013. The report surveyed the opinions of academic leaders at more than 2,800 degree granting institutions of higher education across the United States. at I have prepared some highlights and shared some deeper reflections about the study. 

A bird’s eye view.

The data demonstrates a continued and consistent shift from brick and mortar learning into a college learning experience that provides students with options to learn in a physical classroom or online.  In United States higher education in 2013:
  • 7.1 million students or 33.5% took at least one online class
  • there were more than 411,000 additional students learning online

What does this mean in context to overall higher ed growth rates?  

  • In 2002, only 1.6 million students took at least one online class in higher education in the U.S.  The change from 2002-2012 represents a compound annual growth rate of 16.1 percent. Overall (all modalities of learning), overall U.S. higher education enrollment has grown at an annual rate of 2.5 percent during this same period. 

How have academic leaders’ values changed about online learning? 

  • The way college and university academic leaders value online learning has changed significantly in the past eleven years.  In 2002, less than half of all higher ed institutions surveyed agreed that online learning was strategic to their long-term success. In 2013, close to 70% of institutions agreed, an all time high.

What Does the Crystal Ball Say?  

  • Academic leaders agree that online enrollments will continue to grow in the future. 
  • Ninety percent believe it is likely or very likely that a majority or all of higher education students will take at least one online course by 2018.  Currently, this figure is at 33.5%.

What’s up with MOOCS?

  • Fifty three percent of institutions are undecided about MOOCs and 33% have no plans for a MOOC. These figures reflect little to no change from 2012, despite the deluge of press coverage MOOCs have experienced.
  • Leaders at institutions offering MOOCs supported the following three objectives most for implementing them: 
    • Increase Institution Visibility (27%)
    • Drive Student Recruitment (20%)
    • Innovative Pedagogy (18%)
    • Flexible Learning Opportunities (17%)

Retention is an issue. 

  • Forty one percent of academic leaders noted that retaining online students is more of a problem than it is in face-to-face classes.  This number increased from 27% in 2004.  The leaders were not asked to speculate why.

Which institutions offer the most online courses?

  • Associate degree granting institutions offer far more online courses than any other type and have the most positive view of online learning.  Baccalaureate institutions have the most negative view about online education and represent the largest institutional type with no online offerings. Last year’s 2012 study demonstrated that attitudes about online learning change when more online course are implemented into an organization and the realities of the online paradigm begin to be experienced (Changing Course, 2012).  For example, 18% of academic leaders at institutions without online offerings disagreed that it takes faculty more time and effort to teach an online course; whereas, only 9.7% of academic leaders at institutions with online courses disagreed with this statement.   

You may request to download the entire report from Babson here.
p.s. I missed the cool infographic that was developed and shared with last year’s report.

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