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Survey: Nearly one-third of students studied online last year

By Daniel de Vise

A new report on online education concludes that 29 percent of college students took at least one course online in fall 2009, up from 10 percent in 2002.

Online enrollment has risen from 1.6 million in 2002 to 3.2 million in 2005 to 5.6 million in 2009, according to the report Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010.

The share of college students studying online has grown almost as fast as the number. Online enrollment rose by 21 percent between 2008 and 2009, compared with a 1 percent increase in the overall college population.

Nearly two-thirds of the 2,500 colleges surveyed reported that online learning is a "critical" part of their long-term strategy.

The stigma associated with online learning and "Pajama U" seems to be fading.

"In the first report of this series in 2003, fifty-seven percent of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face," the report states. "That number is now sixty-six percent, a small but noteworthy increase."

The survey is a collaboration between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board and is "the leading barometer of online learning in the United States," according to a release.

For-profit colleges and career-oriented public campuses have been swift to embrace online learning. Prestigious public and private colleges have been slower. It was a big deal last year when the University of North Carolina appeared to become the first flagship public school to require students to take a class -- Spanish 101 -- online. (If someone knows of an earlier example, please let me know!)

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By Daniel de Vise  | November 17, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  Online, Pedagogy, Research  | Tags:  Sloan survey, online college courses, online education, online study survey  
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