How the Internet Is Revolutionizing Education

Sharon Rieger's picture
Friday, June 17, 2011

Unless there's an outright ban, it's almost impossible to find a classroom anywhere in the United States without at least one computer. And in many college lecture halls, nearly every student will come ready with a laptop or tablet. At the very least, they often have a smartphone that's Internet-ready. These tools, only recently available to a mass audience (relatively speaking), are fundamentally altering education. They allow students to access vast stores of information with the press of a button.

The Internet has also allowed millions to receive an education without ever leaving their homes. Through sometimes-controversial online education programs, students can obtain entire degrees or just stay up-to-date in their chosen professional field. 

"Whether enrolled at your local university or simply looking to deepen your knowledge of a subject, the options for education have never been more diverse," according to an infographic assembled by OnlineEducation.net. "Education is more accessible than ever before in human history, thanks entirely to the Internet."

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • Milestones in e-Learning: In 1971, the Open University in England began broadcasting lectures on television and 25,000 students enrolled. In 1993, six years before the term e-Learning was coined at an educational seminar, William Graziadei III outlined a set of criteria to identify e-Learning systems. They must be easy to use, portable, replicable, scalable and affordable, he wrote.
  • Online education is a $34 billion industry.
  • At 250,000 students, the Open University, which teaches a majority of its courses online, is the largest university in the United Kingdom. It's twice the size of the University of London.
  • The for-profit University of Phoenix is now the largest university in the United States, enrolling more than 500,000 students. That's about 13 times larger than the University of Arizona.
  • There are currently more than three million online-only students in the United States. That's more than the total number of college students in France.
  • Use of online education has been growing at an astronomical rate, and it isn't stopping. Seventy-five percent of public higher learning institutions have online learning in their long-term plans. By 2019, it is estimated that 50 percent of all classes taught will be delivered online, and many of these will be available for free.
  • Almost half of college students take at least one class online.
  • Nearly half of online students are 26 or older.

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