US NEWS: Study Shows Sluggish Online Learning Growth for Second Year

Career College Central Summary:

  • The number of students taking online courses continues to climb, albeit at the slowest rate in more than a decade, according to a report released today.
  • About 5.3 million students took at least one online course in fall 2013  – up 3.7 percent from the previous fall, according to "Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States," an annual report by the Babson Survey Research Group. While enrollment in online courses increased at public and private schools, it decreased in the for-profit sector. 
  • The 12th annual study used data collected in partnership with the College Board and relied on 2,800 responses from officials at colleges and universities. For the first time, the study also incorporated newly released data reported by nearly 5,000 schools to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. 
  • Past reports overstated the number of online learners, authors say, because their data was not as precise as the government's.
  • Online enrollment in 2013 varied by institution, the report found. Private, nonprofit four-year institutions saw the biggest percentage boost in online enrollment, followed by public, four-year institutions. For-profit, four-year institutions reported the first drop in enrollment, decreasing 8.7 percent, or by 66,600 students.
  • Some for-profit schools with online offerings have been under fire for high dropout rates, questionable recruitment practices and poor job placement, which may have affected their overall numbers, experts say.

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