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This is part 2 of the Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2010 series

Online Learning -- Statistics


2010 saw the demand for online learning opportunities continue to grow. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, three-quarters of the colleges and universities responding said that they'd seen an increased demand for online courses during the last academic year. This demand has caused enrollment in online classes to rise by almost 1 million students, the largest ever year-to-year increase. Nearly 30% of university students now take at least one course online � over 5.6 million students. And the growth rate for online enrollment (21%) far exceeds the less than 2% growth rate for the overall higher ed student population. the number of college students taking at least one class online increased by 1 million.

But the same survey found that respondents from almost one-third of institutions believe that online learning is inferior to face-to-face instruction. Research published in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching this summer analyzed 20 years of research into online and face-to-face learning and found that in 70% of the cases, students taking distance education courses outperformed their counterparts in the traditionally instructed courses. The research notes "the improvements of technology, the widespread Internet access, the increased legitimacy of online learning within established universities and employers, and the increased participation of adult learners in higher education with clear preferences toward learning anytime and anywhere" and argues that online learning will likely continue to outperform -- and even increasingly outperform -- more traditional face-to-face instruction.

Important Online Learning Trends in 2010


1. Open Content

2. Social Learning

3. Lifelong Learning

At the Techonomy conference in August, Bill Gates quipped that "Five years from now on the web for free you'll be able to find the best lectures in the world." Despite Gate's prediction that this will occur five years hence (and with the caveat that education should be a lot more than just watching online videos), the number open educational resources continued to expand in 2010 -- at both the university and K-12 level. But in addition to the increasing availability of online course materials (openly-licensed and otherwise), companies like Nixty and Open Study have sought to also provide a social framework for OCW students to collaborate and communicate as they learn. And many of these students are "lifelong learners" -- 43% of those accessing MIT OpenCourseWare are not affiliated with any university program, according to spokesperson Steve Carson.

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Audrey Watters


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