Today’s colleges and universities know that online learning is a must for satisfying the learning demands of a rapidly changing student body. Now, recent market data exposes just how big the business of online learning really is, as well as how much it’s expected to grow in the near future, and which components of online learning are expected to bring in the most revenue.

Online Learning Now

Recent findings detailed in “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017,” find that thirty percent of all students in higher education are now taking at least one online course. Those online learners are split almost evenly between students who are exclusively online (14 percent) and those who take some courses in person (16 percent). [Read the full story here “6 million students? Must-know facts about online enrollment.”]

  • The numbers reveal a year-to-year online enrollment increase of 226,375 distance education students–a 3.9 percent increase, up over rates recorded the previous two years. More than 6 million students are now online learners, according to the report.
  • More than one in four students (29.7 percent) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 6,022,105 students).
  • Graduate students are twice as likely to take all of their courses online (26 percent) as undergraduate students (12 percent).
  • The number of students studying on a campus has dropped by almost 1 million (931,317) between 2012 and 2015.
  • The majority of “exclusively distance” students live in the same state as their institution (55 percent), while 42 percent are studying online at an out-of-state institution.
  • Public institutions educate the largest proportion of online students (67.8 percent), though more online learners in private institutions attend nonprofit schools than for-profits, according to the data.

And according to LMS provider Docebo, the 2016 world-wide revenue for self-paced online learning products and services (in US$ millions) exceeded $23 million in North America, beating out Europe and even Asia by a large margin.

(Next page: Where online learning is going in the future; infographic)


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