The annual study details current trends in online teaching and learning to provide students and administrators with insight into future education opportunities
March 21, 2018 (Seattle, WA) BestColleges.com a leading provider of higher education research and college planning resources, today announced the release of its fourth annual online education trends study. The study surveyed approximately 300 school administrators and 1,500 current and former online students in order to gain insight into how colleges develop new programs and how students make decisions around online education.
“We believe it's important to evaluate the latest trends in online education and measure the impact to both students and academic institutions. This is an industry that evolves quickly and these results offer relevant, current insights we are excited to learn from and share with the online learning community,” said Stephanie Snider, Director of BestColleges.com. The findings of the study were published in two reports: the 2018 Trends in Online Education Report intended for academic use and the 2018 Student's Guide to Online Education, specifically designed as a learning resource for students considering an online degree.
“As a website that specializes in online college rankings, it is important that we stay on top of what schools value most in their online programs – why are they offering one degree over another and are online enrollment rates on the rise? We also wanted to hear directly from the students enrolling in these programs – who are they; what makes them choose one program over another; were they able to get a job with their degree? By analyzing all of this, we can gain a more holistic sense of the current state of online education and predict where it's heading,” added Snider.
Both reports focus on the current and future trends in online learning through careful analysis of the survey data by BestColleges.com and lead author, online education specialist, Dr. Melissa Venable. The reports identify several emerging trends relating to online student demographics, educational decisions, career preparation, and future online education opportunities.
2018 Trends in Online Education
As digital education continues to expand, schools are changing the way they develop their curriculums to better respond to the needs of specific groups as well as growing career opportunities. This year, 65% of schools in the BestColleges.com survey said they take the needs of transfer students into consideration when planning online learning opportunities. In addition, 43% are preparing for first-generation students, 48% for military students, and 25% for international students, among other characteristics.
School administrators also reported the top academic areas for growth over the next five years were in business (30%), health care (23%), and computer science (12%). Conversely online students responding to the survey reported their top areas of study as business (22%), health care (15%), and education (13%).
To view all the findings from the 2018 Online Education Report, click here.
Student's Guide to Online Education
The data points to the fact that online education is becoming increasingly popular among students and employers alike, and most students prefer a blend of traditional courses and online courses. Only 36% of students said their courses were completely online and they never visited campus. Live class meetings are also becoming increasingly popular in today's digital climate - 50% of students shared that there was a requirement in their online courses to meet live at scheduled times via video conferencing tools.
Many students continue to struggle with the financial implications of pursuing a college degree, as well as understanding how a specific program will help them reach their career goals. In fact, students identified the top two most challenging aspects of making decisions about online education as "estimating annual costs' and "applying for financial aid and identifying sufficient funding sources."
To view the complete 2018 Student Guide to Online Education, click here.
BestColleges.com helps prospective students find the school that best meets their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. They also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help all students get the most from their education and prepare them for the world after college.