In a November 13, 2008 article on the Inside Higher Ed website, “As Economy Wavers, Online Enrollments Climb,” writer Andy Guess highlights the tremendous growth of enrollment in online education programs. The article provides insight into the results of a report, “Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008,” prepared by the Sloan Consortium, an organization which tracks online learning trends. Summarizing the findings in the report, Guess makes the following observations:
In fall 2007, the study reports, some 3.94 million students enrolled in at least one online course, an increase of 12.9 percent over the previous year. That falls between the 9.7 percent growth for fall 2006 and the 19.7 compound annual rate since fall 2002. In comparison, total student enrollments increased 1.2 percent in the year leading up to last fall, while the compound annual rate for all enrollments since 2002 was 1.6 percent.
Clearly, with changing demographics, fluctuating gas prices and an unstable economy, people are looking to online education as a means of improving themselves while keeping their out-of-pocket costs low and their potential for success high.