Austin, Texas — June 26
While interest will continue to grow and must not be ignored by universities, predictions of the demise of traditional four-year schools are overblown, according to a study broadly examining student and public opinions about online learning.
The report, based on a survey by consulting firm PulsePoint Group, showed that respondents showed a marked preference for a more traditional face-to-face experience — both for its educational value and intangibles like networking, socializing and the intellectual benefits of personal interaction.
But the study also showed a strong recognition of the potential for online courses to fill specific needs, like for people who don’t have the time for the more traditional experience or who are too far away from the institution they would like to attend.
Key findings of the report include:
- The main perceived benefit for online education over on-campus education is not price but practicality.
- Online education is perceived as more relevant to improving specific skills or taking specific courses than to obtaining a degree.
- Certain kinds of courses — those less dependent on personal interaction — may prove better suited to the online experience than others, and courses that combine both online and in-person elements may be the most successful.
- As a group, respondents were only moderately interested in taking online courses in the next three years and tended not to predict they would become more popular. But roughly 10 percent expressed a much greater interest, and these tended to be the respondents who had master’s and doctorate degrees.
- Young people are expected to become major influencers of their parents and other adults. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents’ children aged 14 years or over have taken an online course.
- The market is extremely price sensitive. Interest is high in free courses, but price resistance rises quickly and steeply. More than 60 percent wouldn’t pay $500 for an online course and nearly 80 percent say they wouldn’t pay $1,000.
Source: PulsePoint Group
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