Earlier this week the Department of Education released its analysis of distance education. According to the report:
From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in at least one distance education class expanded from 8 percent to 20 per-cent, and the percentage enrolled in a distance education degree pro-gram increased from 2 percent to 4 percent.
So it’s still tiny. Enrolling in distance education programs was most common among those attending for-profit colleges, according to the report.
While the report begins by noting that “the United States ranked fifth out of 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member and partner countries in the proportion of 25- to 64-year-olds with a postsecondary degree” and “It has been suggested that the flexibility of distance education courses… programs” might be a way to improve that rank, it did not reveal how many students enrolled in distance education programs actually ended up earning postsecondary degrees.
(The Department defined distance education as classes delivered either via teleconferencing or online, so it’s possible to take this as a vaguely an estimate of the growth of online education.)