Recently I pointed out that the widely-quoted Babson survey on online learning estimates 7.1 million US higher ed students taking at least one online course while the new IPEDS data indicates the number as 5.5 million. After looking deeper at the data, it appears that the difference in institutions (whether or not an institution offers any online courses) is even greater than the difference in students. This institutional profile is important, as the Babson report (p. 13) noted that institutions offering no online courses had very different answers than others, a theme that ran through much of the report: [emphasis added]

The results for 2013 represent a marked change from the pattern of responses observed in previous years. In the past, all institutions have consistently shown a similar pattern of change over time. Different groups of institutions typically reported the same direction of change – if one group noted an improvement on a particular index, all other groups would show a similar degree of improvement. The overall level of agreement with a particular statement might vary among different groups, but the pattern of change over time would be similar. This is not the case for 2013.


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