Sloan-C Survey Provides Snapshot of Online Learning

The 2009 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that online enrollments rose by nearly 17 percent from the previous year. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 4.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2008, the most recent term for which figures are available.

“Online enrollments in U.S. higher education show no signs of slowing,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group at Babson College. “More than one out of four college and university students now take at least one course online.”

The seventh annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board, and the Sloan Consortium, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. The complete survey report, “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009” is available on the Sloan Consortium Web site. The report seeks to answer some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education.

Some of these questions include:

  • Is retention of students harder in online courses?
  • Are learning outcomes in online courses comparable to face-to-face courses?
  • Do faculty receive training for teaching online?
  • What is the impact of the economy on online education?

Not surprisingly, the survey found that online enrollment numbers continue to increase. The 17 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student population. More than one in four higher education students now take at least one course online.

Faculty Acceptance and Training
While the number of online courses continues to grow, the survey found that faculty acceptance has been relatively constant since first measured in 2002. Meanwhile faculty training seems to vary by institution type. The survey found:

  • Less than one-third of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value
    and legitimacy of online education.
  • 19 percent of institutions with online offerings have no training or mentoring programs for their online teaching faculty.
  • The most common training approaches for online faculty are internally run training
    courses (65 percent) and informal mentoring (59 percent).

Go here to download “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009.”