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Open Educational Resources

Higher Education Reports

Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States

Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States

The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 7.1 million. The 6.1 percent growth rate, although the lowest for a decade, still represents over 400,000 additional students taking at least one online course.

While the rate of growth in online enrollments has moderated over the past several years, it still greatly exceeds the growth in overall higher education enrollments, said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group. Institutions with online offerings remain as positive as ever about online learning, but there has been a retreat among leaders at institutions that do not have any online offerings, added co-author Jeff Seaman.
Previously underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the report has been able to remain independent through the generous support of Pearson and the Sloan Consortium.

Some key report findings include:

  • Over 7.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2012 term, an increase of 411,000 students over the previous year.
  • The online enrollment growth rate of 6.1 percent is the lowest recorded for this report series.
  • The proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1 percent to 65.9 percent.
  • Only 5.0 percent of higher education institutions currently offer a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), another 9.3 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
  • Less than one-quarter of academic leaders believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses.

Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States

Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States

The tenth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Based on responses from over 2,800 academic leaders, the survey report reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million. Higher education adoption of Massive Open Online Courses remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines.

Some key report findings include:

  • Over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year.
  • Thirty-two percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face.
  • Only 30.2 percent of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education - a rate that is lower than recorded in 2004.

The report is available in multiple formats:

Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011

Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011

The report on U.S. Higher Education online education is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, the complete survey report, "Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011" is available in multiple formats:

Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010

The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010 (pdf), reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.

Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010 (pdf)

"This represents the largest ever year-to-year increase in the number of students studying online," said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group and professor of statistics and entrepreneurship at Babson College. "Nearly thirty percent of all college and university students now take at least one course online." She adds: "There may be some clouds on the horizon. While the sluggish economy continues to drive enrollment growth, large public institutions are feeling budget pressure and competition from the for-profit sector institutions. In addition, the for-profit schools worry new federal rules on financial aid and student recruiting."

Other report findings include:
  • Almost two-thirds of for-profit institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.
  • The 21% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Nearly one-half of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for face-to-face courses and programs.
  • Three-quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs.

Previous Higher Education Reports

Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009

Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009

The seventh annual Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that online enrollment rose by nearly 17 percent from a year earlier. The 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. Using results from more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide, the report finds approximately 4.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2008.
The complete report, “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009” is available here.

Staying The Course - Online Education in the United States, 2008

Staying The Course - Online Education in the United States, 2008

The 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that enrollment rose by more than twelve percent from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 3.94 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2007. The sixth 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.

Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning

Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning represents the fifth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. This year’s study, like those for the previous four years, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities, the study addresses the following key questions:

  • How Many Students are Learning Online?
  • Where has the Growth in Online Learning Occurred?
  • Why do Institutions Provide Online Offerings?
  • What are the Prospects for Future Online Enrollment Growth?
  • What are the Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Online Education?
Making the Grade

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

Maing the Grade Midwestern

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Midwestern Edition

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Midwestern Edition is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

Making the Grade Southern

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Southern Edition

Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 - Southern Edition is based on data collected for the fourth annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board, the report, based on responses from over 2,200 colleges and universities, examines the nature and extent of online learning among U.S. higher education institutions.

Making the Grade

Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States

Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of education in the United States. Unlike the previous reports that focused exclusively on online learning, the current report examines blended (also called hybrid) instruction. The findings are based on three years of responses from a national sample of over 1,000 colleges and universities. Additional results are presented from an Eduventures-conducted national survey of 2,033 U.S. adults interested in postsecondary education in the next three years.

Growing by Degrees

Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005

Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 represents the third annual report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from over 1,000 colleges and universities, this year’s study, like those for previous years’, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education.

Growing by Degrees Southern

Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 - Southern Edition

Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005 - Southern Edition is based on data collected for the third annual national report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and based on responses from over 400 southern colleges and universities, this special report examines the nature and extent of online learning among the 16 southern states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

The survey analysis is based on a comprehensive nationwide sample of active, degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States that are open to the public.

Entering the Mainstream

Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004

The 2004 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the U. S. shows online enrollments continue to grow at rates faster than for the broader student population. Institutes of higher education expect this rate of growth to continue increasing. The second annual survey is based on responses from over 1,100 colleges and universities and represents the state of online education in U.S. higher education. The comprehensive survey by Babson College and Sloan-C concludes that the expected average growth rate for online students for 2004 is 24.8%, up from 19.8% in 2003.

Sizing the Opportunity

Sizing the Opportunity: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2002 and 2003

The 2003 Sloan Survey of Online Learning polled academic leaders and was weighted to allow for inferences about all degree-granting institutions open to the public. When asked to compare the online learning outcomes with those of face-to-face instruction a majority said they are equal. Two out of every three also responded that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy. Sizing the Opportunity: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2002 and 2003 also looks at characteristics of online learners, student and faculty perceptions as well as how private and public institutions approach online learning.