MOOCs may have snared most of the headlines, but traditional, credit-based online learning continued to chug along just fine last year, thank you very much.
More than 6.7 million, or roughly a third, of all students enrolled in postsecondary education took an online course for credit in fall 2011, according to the 2012 iteration of the Babson Survey Research Group's annual Survey of Online Learning. While the upturn in the number of online enrollees (9.3 percent) represented the smallest percentage increase in the 10 years that Babson has conducted this study, overall enrollment in American colleges and universities fell in 2011 for the first time in 15 years, to put the slowing of online growth in some context.
And speaking of said MOOCs — the massive open online courses that have captured the imagination of the public and turbocharged the discussion about digitally delivered instruction in many quarters — the Babson survey for the first time queried institutional officials about their views about the courses.
Given their relative newness, the answers are probably unsurprising: lots of uncertainty about whether to embrace them, and significant skepticism about whether the free open courses (at least as of the time when the survey was conducted) present a "sustainable method for offering online courses."
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