Distance education research

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Posted by Katie Walker on March 16, 2004 at 14:28:33:

In Reply to: Distance Education and Special Education posted by Cassie on October 11, 2002 at 20:17:31:

Primary Research Group would like to make available to the group some
results from its new survey of distance learning programs in the United

February 8, 2004--College distance learning programs increased their
revenues by a mean of 9.67% in 2003, according to a new survey published by
Primary Research Group, "The Survey of Distance & Cyberlearning Programs in
Higher Education, 2004 Edition" (ISBN# 1-57440-066-5). Growth was slightly
faster among 4-year than 2-year colleges. Private colleges increased
revenues by a mean of less than 6%.

The report presents the results of a survey of 71 college distance learning
programs conducted from September 2003 to January 2004. The sample includes
fifty 4-year colleges, and twenty community colleges. The mean equivalent
full time attendance for the colleges in the sample was 10,270 for all
programs, not just distance learning, with a median of 6,300. The largest
college in the sample had more than 39,000 students while the smallest had

Increasingly, distance learning programs are drawing traditional students
who are already enrolled in the college's 2 or 4 year traditional on-campus
course programs. In the mid and late 1990's, when distance learning truly
began to establish itself in North American colleges, the catalyst for
growth initially was hard-to-reach or hard-to-serve populations such as the
disabled, single mothers, fully-employed adults, and individuals residing in
remote areas or employed in professions that mandated frequent travel or
remote quarters such as military personnel. However, state universities and
junior colleges have integrated distance learning into traditional programs
to help lower overall educational costs and increasing distance learning

The mean growth rate of enrollment of the distance learning programs in the
sample was a rocket-like 27.64%, although some of this growth has probably
cannibalized enrollment in traditional classes. The mean rate of growth in
courses offered by the distance learning programs in the sample was a shade
more than 15% with little variation in this figure among different sizes and
types of college distance learning programs,

North American programs are also reaching overseas for students. A full 13%
of the distance learning programs in the sample offer at least some of their
courses to students in other nations through colleges in foreign countries.


The two most commonly used course web authorship programs in use were
Dreamweaver and Macromedia Authorware.

Nearly 87% of programs in the sample offer some form of virtual reference to
their students.

More than 20% of survey participants provided courses to prisons, while more
than 17% provided courses to particular healthcare organizations such as
local hospitals or clinics.

The median increase in tuition for the distance learning classes in the
sample was 6%, with a mean increase of 10%. Public colleges and colleges
with higher FTE enrollments raised their tuition prices more than private
colleges or those with smaller FTE enrollments.

The average cost per credit hour for the DL programs in the sample was $195,
with a median cost of $166.50.

About 20% of the programs in the sample felt that they frequently competed
for students with for-profit educational institutions such as the University
of Phoenix, but most program directors felt that they did not really compete
with such programs or that they competed with such programs only sometimes.

Phil Wong

Primary Research Group Inc.
224 West 30th Street, Suite 802
New York, New York 10001

Phone: 212-736-2316

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