Dear Commons Community,
Those of us who have followed the work of Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman over the past dozen years know that they produced some of the best survey reports on the extent of online learning in American colleges and universities. Yesterday they published what will be their final report, Online Report Card. A summary is as follows.
“The study’s findings highlight a thirteenth consecutive year of growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance” said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.
“Institutions with distance offerings remain as positive as ever, but there has been a retreat among leaders at institutions that do not have any distance offerings,” added co-author Jeff Seaman.
Growth has continued, despite muted support by faculty. The study reveals only 29.1% of academic leaders say their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.” The proportion of chief academic leaders reporting online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped to 63.3% in the most recent results.
Key report findings include:
- A year-to-year 3.9% increase in the number of distance education students, up from the 3.7% rate recorded last year.
- More than one in four students (28%) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 5,828,826 students, a year-to-year increase of 217,275).
- The total of 5.8 million fall 2014 distance education students is composed of 2.85 million taking all of their courses at a distance and 2.97 million taking some, but not all, distance courses.
- Public institutions command the largest portion of distance education students, with 72.7% of all undergraduate and 38.7% of all graduate-level distance students.
- The proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy fell from 70.8% last year to 63.3% this year.
- The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face instruction is now at 71.4%.
- Only 29.1% of academic leaders report that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.” Among schools with the largest distance enrollments, 60.1% report faculty acceptance while only 11.6% of the schools with no distance enrollments do so.
- Academic leaders believe blended courses with both online and classroom components continue to hold greater promise than fully online courses.
The complete survey report is available for a free download at: