Online learning at NU is growing

The University of Nebraska announced Thursday that online education at NU's distance learning platform grew nearly 30 percent last year – a trend that coincides with new national data showing rapid growth in college students' interest in online learning.

NU's progress in distance education was reported to the Board of Regents Thursday. President James B. Milliken said the growth demonstrates that the university is making progress toward the key goal of Online Worldwide: expanding access to education to more Nebraskans.

“Online learning is the fastest-growing segment of higher education today, and the University of Nebraska is leveraging its historical expertise in this area to make a high-quality, affordable education available to students no matter where they live,” Milliken said. “Online Worldwide will be a key tool in increasing the level of educational attainment in Nebraska in order to ensure our state's economic competitiveness – a goal I and many other state and education leaders share.”

According to Online Worldwide Director Arnold Bateman, in 2009-2010, students generated 87,820 credit hours in online courses offered through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska at Kearney. That was a 28.3 percent increase over 2008-2009, when students generated 68,435 credit hours online.

Unduplicated headcount enrollment in distance education programs at UNL, UNO and UNK was 20,774 in 2009-2010, a 26 percent increase over the previous year.
Another 396 students generated 10,313 online credit hours through the University of Nebraska Medical Center School of Allied Health Professions in 2009-2010. These figures are not included in the overall growth figures because comparable data for the previous year is not available.

Rapid growth in online programs is occurring on a national scale as well.  A report by the Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group shows that online college enrollment grew by a record 21 percent last fall – well above the 2 percent growth rate in the overall higher education student population. The report also found that nearly 30 percent of all U.S. college students now take at least one course online.