Online Courses Finally Catching On

A fascinating report from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation indicates that more educators are finally catching on to online learning. The study indicates that “Online enrollments have been growing substantially faster than overall higher education enrollments.†To wit:
  • Almost 3.5 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2006 term
  • 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.
Heading the curve are 2-year colleges, which have the highest growth rates and account for over one-half of all online enrollments for the last five years. Surely because online learning is extremely valuable for working adults, who can squeeze the lessons into their work schedules. I’ve been working in e-learning for five years, and battling skepticism has been an uphill struggle. It’s good to hear that more people are loosening up to the notion. But as an online course software developer, I still see huge roadblocks with many of the online learning platforms. They can be ungainly, unintuitive, quirky and expensive. Especially in early days of adoption, we find making a usable system is paramount. For more reading, listen to this related report from NPR.

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