Distance Learning for Higher Education – Stats


According to web Based Education Commission,” preparing students today for tomorrow’s workspace has a lot to do with teaching about how to use & evaluate knowledge. The Internet is rapidly becoming the biggest repository of information we have ever known. The key will be our ability to find, evaluate & use the information it provides. Students must know how to evaluate the data.”

Distance learning is the new wave of the future and its roots are spreading all over the globe at an appreciable pace. It is one of the latest technologies to provide skill based, livelihood education & eligibility for employment to all, without any disparity. It is facilitated via Online Learning which can be a lifeline to those who have obstacle, such as geographical distances or physical disabilities (as suggested by Paul Levinson, author, ”The soft Edge”). Countries are catching up fast with the trend of Community Colleges. Today more students are taking online classes at traditional four-year colleges which heralds the beginning of a new educational era.

Given below is an aggregation of few striking statistics produced as a result of surveys by prominent institutions & authorities which can be an immense help in quantifying the effect of online-distance learning. It is followed by an inference discussing scope of similar technology in India:

According to INFOGRAPHIC, a survey by U.S. Department of Education revealed a significant jump in the enrolment of undergraduate students in distance learning , lately

There has been a whopping 150% increase in the no. of students selecting these courses as a part of their regular curriculum between 1998 & 2008.

As many as, 25% students enrolled in at least one online course at associate’s degree level, compared to 17% at Bachelor’s degree level.

Further, 18% UG students are predicted to receive 80% or more of their education through online courses by 2013. These statistics are an insight to the expanding arena of distance online learning.

1.According to a report on ‘Digital Revolution & Higher Education’ by Pew Internet

In an effort to make higher education more flexible & accessible to more people, many American Colleges & Universities offer online classes & even grant degrees for course of study in which all the course work was completed online.

15% College presidents have reported that more than half of their UG students have taken an online course.

Also, 50% College Presidents predict that 10 years from now, most of their students will take classes online.

29% public says, online courses offer an equal value compared with courses taken in a classroom & 39% of all adults who have taken a class online, argue that format’s educational value is equal to course taken online.

2.A survey report by CDW-G reveals that

Around 48% faculty members believe that virtual learning is essential to 21st century classroom, compared to 53% of students.

As many as, 62% students believe that virtual learning provides the opportunity for professional adults to take classes while working full time. Students with significant work obligations tend to choose distance learning programs over their non-working peers, likely for flexible schedule such programs offer.

Thus, the data unveils the concept of flexibility that comes handy with online classes.

3.According to ICT’s Distance Education Survey 2012, important trends in eLearning at Community Colleges are cited as follows:

Survey data has consistently confirmed that more females than males take online classes. 62% students at community colleges taking online courses are female & only 37% are male. If anything, the gap seems to be widening.

Online Courses are equally popular among traditional students as in tech-savvy millennial students. This is revealed by the fact that traditional students are 48% in number while non-traditional are 47%.

IAV( Interactive Video Courses) are also making it to the top hot list slowly with 10% colleges continuing to increase the course each term while 25% have deactivated their IAV or have never offered the same.

The statistical data for significant ‘Student Services & tech Support’ is represented via the following table:


% Colleges currently offering

Online admission to institution


Online Registration for classes


Dedicated Website for distance education program & students


Online Plagiarism evaluation


Online student orientation for distance education


These statistics display the current scenario of distance-online learning in developed nations, specifically in U.S. Now, we know that online learning can enable learning to happen in a variety of contexts, locations & times; it allows for a transformation of curriculum & learning. The earliest form of distance learning took place through correspondence courses in Europe. This was the accepted norm until the middle of the 20th century, when instructional radio & television became popular. Online courses seem to be the current trend.

Distance- Online Learning in India

India has the largest share of youth population which needs to be channelized into diverse & multilevel occupational areas. As suggested by the statistics, distance-online learning can save the day but same is yet in embryonic stages in India.Community colleges are an alternative system of education which aim to empower individuals through appropriate skill development leading to gainful employment in collaboration with the local industry & community. According to sources, recently, Bihar’s Education Minister Sh. P.K. Shahi  were sent to USA by the Central government, along with four other state ministers,  to study the concept of community college and explore possibility of opening such colleges in India. He liked the concept but said that same was not viable for India owing to the finance required. Further, U.S has offered to help India build Community College System, saying a world class education would be good for both nations. In effect to this a panel sat against replicating U.S Model for proposed 200 community colleges.  Once, these colleges are established, it will automatically pave way for the integrated feature of distance-online learning.

With colleges emerging out of nowhere in India, the quality education is becoming a thing of past. So, education should move beyond colleges. Students, universities, employers & governments, need to lend their “stamp of approval” & give credit to online courses. Online education is a melting pot for educators; facilitates collaboration & simulates discussion between people, cultures, institutions & subject areas. So, almost all types & sizes of institutions have to show a steady increase in the importance of online education in their long term strategy.

Mark Twain is often quoted saying: “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” In the coming years, 1000’s of students in India will have to take the quote literally since they may not have any brick & mortar school or college to afford them.

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