Online learning has grown immensely in the last decade. The idea of the “virtual classroom” is rising in popularity, and online classes are now offered by nearly every institution. As Todd Hitchcock, Senior Vice President of Online Solutions for Pearson Learning Solutions, said, “learning is no longer limited to four walls.”
In this infographic, we examine the rise of online education, from its humble beginnings in 1992, when the first computer based learning center was created, to recent studies that have shown a total of 6.1 million students taking at least one online course. That number is projected to rise at an enormous rate: analysts expect 25 million students to be taking at least one online course in 2015, which is more than 400% growth in just a few years.
The first completely online course, introduced by CALCampus in 1994, was revolutionary for its time. However, just nine years later, in 2003, 81% of colleges were offering one or more online courses for students. Online learning was praised as efficient and easy for both students and faculty members.
Additionally, this rise in virtual classes created new opportunities for busy professionals, parents, and students to attend school and learn on their own time. Since a traditional college education required trips to campus and many hours spent in classrooms, it was nearly impossible for some to obtain a degree – but online education revolutionized the industry, allowing even the busiest people in the world to achieve knowledge and obtain two and four year degrees without ever setting foot in a physical classroom.
One common concern expressed by those unfamiliar with online education is that the classes provided online won’t be the same quality as those given to students living on campus. However, research has shown that this isn’t true. 77% of academic leaders report that the learning outcomes for online classes are the same – or superior – to face-to-face classes. Also, 65% of higher education institutions say that online learning is critical for their long-term strategy, and that they plan to continue offering it in the future.
Online learning has risen in popularity very quickly, and due to its convenience, flexibility, and quality, it will only continue to grow. Whether you are taking a single online course or plan to earn your entire degree online, you should know that you are living in an amazing time, where learning can happen anywhere and at any time – not just when you are in a classroom.