The Proliferation of Online Education
There was a time not too long ago when online education was seen by many as something that was reserved for high school dropouts who wanted to get their diploma and stay-at-home moms who wanted to further their knowledge in a particular subject. Over the past several years, however, it has become one of the fastest growing trends in the United States and is being taken advantage of by everyone from grad school students to corporate executives. Not only that, more people are using online education as an alternative to a full-time college career and it’s changing the way university courses are taught and college degrees are earned.
Data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics between 2002 and 2006 shows that the number of students enrolled in at least one online college course increase from just over 1 million to 12.2 million. By the end of 2014 it is estimated that there will be more than 3.5 million full-time college students taking all of their courses online and that within the next three to five years there will be upwards of 22 million people enrolled in at least one online college course. Conversely, the number of students going the traditional route and taking all of their classes in on-campus classrooms will fall to around 5 million.
Many experts attribute this increase in not only online course enrollment but societal acceptance thereof to this generation ongoing dependence on technology. Students learn differently than they did in years past. Information is so much more readily available than it traditionally has been and the amalgam of entertainment and information in a single forum combined with the proliferation of Web 2.0 and social networking platforms is making online education inevitably pervasive.
According to data recently collected by the Sloan Consortium, more than 65 percent of America’s postsecondary schools reported an increased demand for new online course offerings and more than 70 percent reported an increased demand for their current offerings. Conversely, the demand for traditional on-campus courses fell below 55 percent and was dropping rapidly. Despite the numbers and the trends toward online education, the level of growth is actually beginning to slow down somewhat relative to that which was being seen during the first ten years of the new millennium.
Nevertheless, it is clear that online education is something that is not going away anytime soon. The internet has proven to make life much easier in many ways and education is quickly becoming one of the most obvious. An independent report published by Ambient Insight stated that over the next twelve to sixteen months, revenue generated from online learning products and services is expected to increase from just under $17 billion to more than $23 billion.