New government data sheds light on online learners

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Despite speculation that online education is rapidly changing the face of higher education, a new set of government data shows students might not be embracing virtual learning at the pace previously estimated.

About 5.4 million students, or one in four, took at least one distance education course during the fall of 2012, according to data released earlier this month ​by the National Center for Education Statistics.

While that may be a significant number of students, it's 1.7 million fewer than reported previously in the annual Babson Survey Research Group survey,​ the former benchmark of online learning. And​ 74 percent of students were not enrolled in any distance education courses at all.

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