With the growth of social networking software, broadband interconnection tools and an increasingly online savvy student population, online education is looking like an increasingly attractive option. Analyst IBISWorld expects online education to be the fastest growing industry in Australia this financial year.
Revenues have increased from $827 million in 2004 to more than $2.7 billion this year. This represents a compound annual growth rate of more than 27 percent, more than seven times the 3.5 percent growth rate in the education sector as a whole.
A Sloan Consortium survey of 2500 tertiary institutions in the US found enrolments in online courses grew by 12.9 percent last year, more than 10 times the overall growth rate in tertiary student numbers as a whole. In 2007, more than one in five US tertiary students completed at least one subject online.
Growth is being driven by a strong uptake of broadband internet services, better courseware and teaching methods, and a growing acceptance of online education as a mainstream alternative. The greater use of social networking type software in particular also has made online learning a far more social experience than traditional distance education methods.
Open Universities Australia is the biggest provider of online education in the tertiary sector. Since 2004. the number of undergraduate students studying at OUA has increased from just more than 9400 to more than 25000 last year. Growth in postgraduate students has been even stronger: fewer than 200 in 2004 to more than 1700 today. Does your organisation have an effective online presence?