Enrollment in Online Courses Expected to Keep Growing

The future looks bright for online courses and programs at U.S. colleges and universities, according to a recent survey.

A 2018 report published by Babson Survey Research Group predicts that enrollment in online programs should keep rising at non-profit institutions. On the other hand, the prospects of online education at for-profit schools remain uncertain due to continued criticism over low graduation rates and dodgy recruiting practices.

Between fall 2015 and fall 2016, overall enrollment in online courses increased by 5.6 percent, which was a faster rate than the previous three years and represented the 14th consecutive year of enrollment growth. That trend is expected to continue into 2018, according to the survey.

In a recent U.S. News and World Report story about online education trends to look for in 2018, editor Jordan Friedman wrote, “As more students seek flexible alternatives to traditional, on-campus courses, online education continues to evolve.”

Besides overall online enrollment growth, according to Friedman, other expectations for 2018 include:

  • Use of more modern technologies in courses: Colleges and universities will be enhancing their online programs with some higher tech, including virtual reality (simulated work environments), artificial intelligence (my teaching assistant is a chatbot) and gamification — “or learning presented in a game format.”
  • More health-related online degrees and courses: “2U, a company that partners with colleges and universities to create online graduate programs, recently launched a physician assistant online master’s with the Ivy League Yale University, for example. The company has also established a partnership with the University of Southern California to create a partially online Doctor of Physical Therapy program, which will be available this year.”
  • A greater push to teach specific job skills: “Many students complete degrees online because they plan to either accelerate or switch careers but still want to keep working full time, experts say.”

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By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed