2013 US Survey of Online Learning published


The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the Sloan Consortium and Pearson reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one online course in the United States now exceeds 7.1 million. But it also registers growing skepticism about the role and sustainability of MOOCs.

The Sloan Consortium and Babson Survey Research Group are among the partners in the ICDE led Global Online Higher Education Report initiative which begins work this year.

“While the rate of growth in online enrolments has moderated over the past several years, it still greatly exceeds the growth in overall higher education enrolments,” 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.The 6.1% growth rate, although the lowest for a decade, still represents over 400,000 additional students taking at least one online course.

The survey found that 33% of higher education students now take at least one course online, while 90% of academic leaders believe that it is likely or very likely that a majority of all higher education students will be taking at least one online course in five year’s time.

However,  the proportion of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to learning outcomes in face-to-face education grew from 57.2% in 2003 to 77.5% last year, but fell back to 74.1% this year.

Sceptical to MOOCs

The proportion of academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy dropped from 69.1% to 65.9%, but increasing scepticism is apparent about the future role of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs). Only 5% of higher education institutions currently offer a MOOC, while another 9.3 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages. The survey reports, though, that fewer institutions see MOOCs as important to learn about online pedagogy, and increasing numbers are concerned about credentials for MOOC completion causing confusion about higher education degrees.

Less than one-quarter of academic leaders believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses.

Download the survey

Sources: The Sloan ConsortiumThe Chronicle of Higher Education

See also: Global Online Higher Education Report initiative announcement