Whats Behind the Explosive Growth in Distance Learning Education?

Global support for distance learning education continues to emerge and the popularity of online education surges.

Market research firms, government agencies, public and private companies, and venture capital firms-those companies that invest in new and emerging businesses-are all in agreement regarding the bright future of distance learning, as well as the good investment opportunity distance learning poses for investors.

This also translates into an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to long distance learning to accomplish their career, educational, and learning goals. Chances are, if there isn't a program in place today for your specific needs, there will be one very soon.

Several market factors are presented here, along with findings from research and government agencies to show that distance learning education is here to stay and will eventually surpass the traditional classroom approach to learning.

What's Driving the Growth in Distance Learning Education?

Consider the following statistics from International Data Corporation on the market for distance learning. These figures and others are causing many traditional colleges and universities to re-vamp their courses to make them available online 24/7.

  • Long distance learning education is a convenient way for adult learners-who have to balance obligations such as family and work-to further their education.
  • Over 133 million adults in the U.S., or 66% of the adult population, have Internet access today. That's over half the entire U.S. population and serves as a strong incentive for colleges and universities to re-vamp their programs to support this untapped educational market.
  • Over 90% of college students access the Internet regularly, with 50% accessing the web daily, on a global scale. Campus-based colleges and universities have found that in order to stay relevant to their traditional students, they have had to create online distance learning programs to keep up with their educational needs.
  • Over 87% of four-year colleges offered distance-learning courses in 2004, up from 62% in 1998. In addition, between 1998 and 2004, 25% more colleges and universities added distance learning education programs to their course offerings.
  • By 2004, 2.2 million degree-seeking students were enrolled in distributed courses-CAGR of 33%.
  • The growth of distance learning on a global scale has the attention of companies as well-they plan on spending $272 billion in the next five years on in-house training (e-learning) and educational programs.
  • 65% of all online courses worldwide had online discussion forums in 2005, a figure which grew from 51% in 2001. This is a sign of how quickly the Internet's performance is improving around the world. The bandwidth required to support online discussions is great news for distant learning. Now even the most geographically remote student can get an online education.

The implications are clear. Distance learning education is growing rapidly. Another indication of continued growth lies in the fact that many distance learning education programs will soon be expanding into other languages.

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