“As online education becomes more widely accessible, it’s important to evaluate the latest trends in online learning and measure their impact on students and academic institutions over time,” says Stephanie Snider, director of BestColleges. “By analyzing the experiences and perspectives of students and administrators, we can gain a holistic sense of the current state of online education and make informed decisions about the creation of new online learning programs and opportunities.”

Key online education trends

1. Sixty-eight percent of school administrators report that marketing and meeting recruitment goals are currently their biggest challenge when offering new online programs.

2. Just because students are enrolled in an online education program doesn’t mean they aren’t on campus–46 percent of online students say they visit campus, either by choice or because of a requirement.

3. Student say they think online education programs are high-quality. In this year’s survey, 77 percent say the quality of online education is better than or equal to on-campus options, and 88 percent say their degrees have or will have a positive ROI.

4. One thing that remains consistent is the demand for online education. Nearly all (99 percent) of school administrators say demand is either increasing or has stayed the same.

5. Online programs will have to provide targeted support for students and faculty, and this could be a challenge as online students come from varied backgrounds and stages of life.

A survey reveals 7 online learning trends--is your program seeing the same trends?

Related: Here’s what online learning programs do right–and here’s what they can improve

6. Twenty percent of online alumni in this year’s survey say unexpected personal events were a major roadblock to graduation. Almost 40 percent of administrators say this is the biggest challenge for their current students, which has implications for support services, student tracking and intervention, and faculty development.

7. Students’ personal obligations–half of those surveyed are employed and 59 percent have children–continue to influence their decisions to enroll in an online programs. Convenience and flexibility are students’ top reasons for studying online. Forty-seven percent say their existing work and family commitments don’t allow for campus-based attendance.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Editorial Director, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura