Monday, March 17, 2008

Changing Distance Educational Landscape

Educators who have been on the Internet for the past 10 years have often tried to tell those who were not on the Internet that the world of education is rapidly changing and that institutions who currently are primarily invested in F2F residential programs may be at-risk.

There is lots to debate about this issue and there is a variety of evidence both for and against the growth of online education. Here is a small glimpse at online education in Illinois that tells you something about the patterns.

In Illinois in 2007 there were 158,362 online distance education enrollments and there were 8,679 online class sections offered. See Distance Education Enrollments 2007 for the complete report.

These numbers have dramatically increased since 2001 when there were 19,764 enrollments in 1,753 courses. Complete report.

So let's take a look at the major residential university in Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What is the pattern over these six years? In 2001, the University of Illinois had 1400 Internet enrollments and in 2007 there were 2,032, not much change. Clearly, Illinois is not leading the change in regards to offering courses through the Internet.

So who has been leading the change? The biggest single change seems to be DeVry University, a private, for-profit university that focuses on technical skill training. In 2001, DeVry had 196 Internet enrollments and in 2007, they had 74,021 enrollments. In 2001, DeVry accounted for less than 1% of the online enollments and in 2007, they account for 47%. In 2001, the U of Illinois had 7% of the online enrollments and by 2007 it had only 1%.

If this pattern holds true in other states, then you can begin to see how higher education is changing. These patterns show how the landscape of higher education is changing and which institutions are going online to educate students.

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