IPEDS data system reveals that the perception of distance education may be exaggerated

distance-education-IPEDSAccording to a new analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the current national conception that distance education is “booming,” is an exaggeration, since only a low percentage of postsecondary students are enrolled in a distance education course.

The analysis, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), which brings higher-ed stakeholders and institutions to “improve the quality and reach” of eLearning programs, and based on the same methodology of Phil Hill of the e-Literate blog, is based off of IPEDS’ first time inclusion of data on students taking distance education courses in Fall 2012.

“With this data, we can finally get a comprehensive, objective look at the current state of distance education adoption nationally,” said Terri Straut of Ascension Consulting, who provided the analysis for WCET.

Analysis of the IPEDS data was conducted on all degree-granting institutions in the U.S., which represents 4,726 institutions of higher education (IHE) in total, both 4-year and 2-year colleges. This data set matches the data set that Hill has used in his recent blogs that analyze the new distance education data. According to Hill, the data set also matches the historical data reported by the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG)/Sloan-C/Pearson survey.

Straut’s analysis provides data not just on the number of students enrolled in a distance education (DE) course, but breaks the numbers down by state, as well as type of institution (public, non-profit, and for-profit).

(Next page: 10 facts about distance education)

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