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Online Higher Ed.: One Million More and Counting

Postsecondary online education has grown by roughly one million enrollments in the last year, according to a new report by the Sloan Consortium, a professional leadership organization created to support online education in higher ed. The survey found that approximately 5.6 million postsecondary students, or nearly 30 percent of all higher education students, were enrolled in at least one online class in the fall of 2009.

About 75 percent of colleges and universities surveyed found that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and program offerings, and 63 percent said that online learning was a critical part of their institution's long-term strategy. This is the 8th-annual report, which pulled results from a survey of 2,500 colleges and universities.

The report breaks down its responses based on public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit institutions. About 76 percent of public institutions surveyed said that learning outcomes from online courses were as good as or better than face-to-face offerings, for instance, while only 55 percent of private nonprofit and 67 percent of private for-profit institutions felt the same way. The report surmises that this discrepancy is because public institutions were the first to embrace online learning, the most likely to view online courses as critical to their overall long-term strategy, and the most likely to report that faculty accept the legitimacy and value of online learning.

Although this report focuses on higher education, as we've seen often in online learning, what's happening in postsecondary education often trickles down into K-12.

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