The Washington Post ran a feature story this week about how the shift towards distance education, especially Internet-based education, is rapidly accelerating. If we thought distance education was becoming popular in the late 90s, we haven’t seen anything yet.
It’s predicted that by 2008, one in 10 college students will be enrolled in an Internet-based education program. The interesting thing is that this statistic only covers online coursework. It doesn’t take into account mail and video-based distance education programs which account for an even greater number of students.
Why the rapid increase? There are probably a number of factors involved:
- The employment market is becoming increasingly competitive. Jobs are getting harder to secure straight out of college, making it even more vital that fresh graduates have real-world experience to go along with their degree.
- Colleges offering distance education are hitting their stride in terms of course content and delivery. They have had 10 years to improve their Internet-based offerings, and this improvement is beginning to show.
- Federal law is easing back its restrictions on distance education as people are beginning to recognize that, far from being an inferior way to earn a degree, it actually makes an incredible amount of fiscal and academic sense.
There is a reason why the University of Phoenix, a regionally accredited college offering full degrees through distance education, is now the largest private university in the United States. (Its enrollment jumped 20 percent in fiscal 2006.) People are recognizing distance education as a compelling alternative to traditional college, and they are making the switch.
Read the full story: Online Degree Programs Take Off