Recently, the Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson released the results of a survey about online learning. The report was based on responses from over 2,800 academic leaders and found that over 7.1 million higher ed students are learning online. The study aimed to a number of questions central to the nature and extent of online education:
- Is online learning strategic?
- Are learning outcomes comparable in online settings and face to face settings?
- How many students are learning online?
- How are MOOCs faring?
- Do students require more discipline to complete online courses?
- Is retention of students harder in online courses?
- What is the future of online learning?
- Who offers MOOCs?
- What are the objectives of MOOCs?
- What role do MOOCs play for higher education institutions?
(note: Please click here for a PDF of the full findings of the report)
The report quantified many things that those involved in education already knew (or at least, suspected). Participation in online learning is increasing. Learning outcomes are largely positive. Interestingly, what this study does show is something that I hadn’t quite expected – that many of the numbers that had been continually rising over the past years were starting to show a slight decline. For example, the proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1 percent to 65.9 percent. Many believe that MOOCs are not a sustainable form of online learning for higher education institutions to pursue.
Online Enrollments are still growing
Fewer leaders think that online education is critical to their mission
- Over 7.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2012 term, an increase of 411,000 students over the previous year.
- The online enrollment growth rate of 6.1 percent is the lowest recorded for this report series.
- Thirty-three percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
- The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face grew from 57.2 in 2003 to 77.0 percent last year, but fell back to 74.1 percent this year.
- The proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1 percent to 65.9 percent.
- Ninety percent of academic leaders believe that it is likely or very likely that a majority of all higher education students will be taking at least one online course in five year’s time.
- Only 5.0 percent of higher education institutions currently offer a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), another 9.3 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
- Less than one-quarter of academic leaders believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses.