Thursday, January 28, 2010

Report Shows High Demand for Online Learning in Higher Education

Online courses continue to grow in popularity and relevance, and a new report (“Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009”) available from the Sloan Consortium offers insightful data about the growth. More than 2,500 colleges and universities—both 2-year and 4-year institutions—in the United States were included in the survey that researched online offerings in higher education. The results showed that more than 25% of college and university students took at least one online class in the fall 2008 semester. This number is staggering because it represents a 17% increase over the previous year. Since the overall growth rate in higher education was only 1.2%, a 17% increase in online learning shows a dramatic trend.

Elaine Allen, professor at Babson College and co-author of the newly released report, discussed the findings in a short video that can be viewed on YouTube. In the video, she said, “When we have a downturn in the economy, we tend to see people going back to school. They go back to school because they have been laid off or lost their job; they go back to school to improve their credentials in case they’re going to get laid off. So we see a higher demand for all types of classes in higher education.” Further, Allen shared that 75% of schools that offer online classes said their demand went way up, and 2/3 of schools that don’t offer online classes said their students were asking for them.

Many colleges and universities that currently use LabSim training in their IT courses have told us the same thing: they’ve seen many more adult learners in the past year returning to school to learn a new skill set or deepen their knowledge in hopes of finding better work. Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan—a suburb of Detroit—told us their story just last week. Professor William Schlick said, “We have many students who are out of a job and mad at the world. Using LabSim, we turn that around and help them find new skills.” IT courses can be highly effective for online delivery when a tool such as LabSim is used to provide hands-on learning while allowing students to work at their own pace and on their own time.

Have you used LabSim in an online college or university course? If so, we'd love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment or email

Emily Howard, TestOut

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