The State of E-Learning in Higher Education: An Eye Toward Growth and Increased Access

ECAR’s report on e-learning incorporates results from a survey, focus groups, and interviews to provide a description of the current state of e-learning in higher education. In this report are insights into the challenges of e-learning, the concerns about e-learning that remain, the most important factors to consider in selecting e-learning technologies, how accreditors view and approach e-learning, and the specific steps institutions can take to make progress in their e-learning initiatives.

*This maturity index has been integrated into the EDUCAUSE Benchmarking Service.

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Key Findings

  • Nearly all institutions have a major interest in e-learning, at least at the level of some departments. Online courses are ubiquitous, with over 80% of institutions offering at least several courses online and more than half offering a significant number of courses online.
  • Two-year (AA) institutions have historically been leaders in using distance courses to attract nontraditional students, and these institutions continue to pave the way in online course offerings to attract “post-traditional learners.” Among all Carnegie classes, AA institutions are most likely to have a center dedicated to e-learning and are most likely to offer a significant number of online courses.
  • For successful, large-scale implementation of e-learning, a centralized model provides more efficiency and seamless integration of e-learning services and is characteristic of more mature institutions. However, for some institutions, a distributed model allows for more innovation and individualization for specific programs.
  • There is a desire to more than double the number of e-learning staff in central IT. The most-desired positions include course designers, professional development staff, and app designers. IT is involved in the management of e-learning services in almost two-thirds of institutions.
  • Institutions in general are most mature in their synergy of e-learning systems and are least mature in using analytics to assess e-learning outcomes.

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