Why Online Education Is Growing by fariok


									Why Online Education Is Growing

Distance education of one sort or another has been around for a long
time. Correspondence courses helped people learn trades on their own free
time, while radio or taped television courses educated students in remote
areas. Now, with the rapid expansion and evolution of the Internet,
online education has become a reality. What began as a convenient means
of offering internal training to employees via corporate intranets has
now spread to the general public over the worldwide web.

Online-only colleges and career schools have flourished, and traditional
ground-based universities are moving courses and degree programs onto the
Internet. It’s now possible to earn a degree from an accredited college
without ever setting foot on campus, and more people enroll every year.
Evidence of Growth

The Sloan Consortium, a non-profit foundation, conducts yearly surveys
investigating online education. Their most recent report captured the
online learning landscape as it stood in 2007-2008, revealing that
20% of all US college students were studying online at least part-time in
3.9 million students were taking at least one online course during Fall
2007, a growth rate of 12% on the previous year;
This growth rate is much faster than the overall higher education growth
rate of 1.2%.
Higher Education: Meeting The Need For A Skilled Workforce

Higher education in general has grown greatly. Census data shows that in
1980, only 32% of US adults under 25 had earned a degree or completed any
college coursework. By 2000, this number had jumped to 52%. Prosperity
has played a role in this growth: as median incomes have risen over the
past several decades, more people have been able to afford to send their
children to college. Political support for putting people into college
education, via Federal funding such as Pell Grants and loans, has also
helped increase access to higher education.

However, the main driver behind the increase in higher education is the
huge change in the overall economy of the US over the last fifty years.
Changes in technology and globalization of the economy means the once-
large manufacturing base of the United States has dwindled. Those jobs
accounted for 40% of workers in 1950, but by 2000 had shrunk to include
only 18% of the workforce. Most workers are now employed by the service
sector, where more specialized skills are often a necessary requirement
for finding a job. As a result, some post-secondary education is now seen
as critical for workplace viability by a majority of the population.
Online Education: Meeting The Needs of the Skilled Workforce

And a majority of the population is now online: in 1997, less than 20% of
US households had Internet access. By 2007, that percentage had grown to
61.7%. Internet access took only 7 years to reach 25% of US households,
compared with 35 years for the television and 46 for household
electricity. As with music, television, and newspapers, higher education
needs to move to where the people are if it wants to expand its user
base. Also, traditional campuses are having trouble maintaining
facilities that meet the growing college population’s needs. While the
cost savings of running an online degree program aren’t tremendous (or at
least aren’t a driving concern for university officials), it’s generally
easier for colleges to move programs online than it is for them to build
extensions to their campuses.

The sagging economy has also been good for online education. The Sloan
Consortium’s findings revealed that many institutions expect more working
adults to turn to continuing education to build new skills or enhance
existing ones to better their chances in the job marketplace, and also to
avoid paying higher fuel costs as commuter students.

This is probably a safe bet: nearly 90 million adults participate in some
form of continuing education every year even during good times, according
to Census data. The convenience of being able to complete a degree
without giving up employment makes online education attractive to working
adults. As those adults strive to continue earning, they’ll want to
continue learning.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning
Commission and a member of the North Central Association (30 North
LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504) www.ncahlc.org.

CTU does not guarantee employment, salary, or performance of graduates.



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