ENTERING THE MAINSTREAM: Distance Education and Higher Education

Article excerpt

Enrollments in distance-delivered courses rose nearly 20% in 2003, according to a report authored by Alien and Seaman (2004). This monograph, supported by the Sloan Foundation, is titled Entering the Mainstream and is a follow-up to a similar study reported last year, titled Sizing the Opportunity.

Authors of Entering the Mainstream collected data using a survey collected from 1,170 institutions of higher education: 585 public, 536 private nonprofit, and 49 for-profit. Among the interesting conclusions offered in the report were the following:

* Slightly more than half of all colleges rated online learning as essential to their overall strategy.

* 1.9 million students were studying online in the fall of 2003.

* Just over 40% of responding institutions agreed that students were at least satisfied with their online courses, as compared to traditional classroom courses.

* Baccalaureate institutions had the lowest online enrollments and lowest opinions about online learning.

* The larger the institution, the more likely it believed that online education is critical.

* Administrators predicted that online enrollments will grow 24% in the next year, with the greatest growth in private, for-profit colleges.

* The majority of academic leaders believed that online learning quality is already equal to or superior to face-to-face instruction. …