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Most College Students To Take Classes Online by 2014

Nearly 12 million post-secondary students in the United States take some or all of their classes online right now. But this number will skyrocket to more than 22 million in the next five years, according to data released recently by research firm Ambient Insight.

According to Ambient Insight Chief Research Officer Sam S. Adkins, already some 1.25 million students in higher education programs take all of their classes online, while another 10.65 take some of their classes online. The two groups are still outnumbered by students who take all of their courses in physical classrooms, which Ambient Insight reckoned at 15.14 million as of 2009.

But this situation will change drastically by 2014, at which time, Adkins forecast, only 5.14 million students will take all of their courses in a physical classroom, while 3.55 million will take all of their classes online, and 18.65 million will take some of their classes online.

The information was presented in a Webinar that coincided with a new report from Ambient Insight focusing on the growth of the electronic learning market (in terms of dollars spent on products and services) from 2009 to 2014. Titled "US Self-paced eLearning Market," the new report highlighted some of the dominant segments in online learning. Of the individual segments spotlighted in the research, healthcare was projected to see the most growth over the next five years. But K-12 and higher education growth followed in second and third position, respectively, for a combined academic projected growth percentage greater than that of healthcare. K-12 was projected to grow about 18 percent by 2014; higher education was projected to grow more than 8 percent. Healthcare was projected to grow a little less than 20 percent over the next five years.

"The rate of growth in the academic segments," said Ambient CEO Tyson Greer, in a prepared statement, "is due in part to the success and proliferation of the for-profit online schools."

Across all segments, the market for electronic learning products and services, at present, is $16.7 billion. According to the report, this will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent over the next five years to $23.8 billion in 2014.

"In the past two years, the rate of growth for online learning products has slowed," Adkins wrote in a statement. "Yet, despite the recession, and in many cases, because of it, the demand is positive in all the online learning buyer segments....."

An executive summary of Ambient Insight's report, "US Self-paced eLearning Market," can be found here. The full report runs $4,825. Ambient will also be releasing a worldwide report on electronic learning in November. We'll have more information about that when it becomes available.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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