Enrollments Grow in Online Learning while enhancing Teaching Effectiveness

Recently, an article in InsideHigher Ed “Online Enrollments Grow, but Pace Slows” featured new federal data that show that more than 1/3 of all 2018 college and university students took at least one online course, and online enrollments have grown.

In fact, 34.7% of students have taken at least one online course in 2018, making up 3,677,689 students. Further, there were 3,259,560 students enrolled in exclusively distance education courses.

In comparison, according to the federal data report, overall enrollment in higher education was down -1.1%.

Enrollment in online courses at GVSU continues to grow as do the national numbers.

At GVSU, 24.1% of students were enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course in the Fall 2019 semester. This is up from 20.4% in 2018. In addition, in the spring/summer semester, 57.8% of students were taking at least one distance education course in 2019, up from 49.7% in 2018.

Here is a chart of the number of the unduplicated count of students enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course from 2016 through 2019 at GVSU:


Related, in a recent “Faculty Attitudes on Technology Survey” administered by InsideHigher Ed, results indicate that professors’ are showing a steady acceptance of online learning.

In fact, professors also indicate that teaching online makes them better and more effective in their practice:

  • Three-quarters (77%) of instructors who have taught online say they have developed pedagogical skills and practices that have improved their teaching.

  • 75% think more critically about engaging students with content; 65% make better use of multimedia content; 63% more likely to experiment and make changes to try to improve the learning experience.

  • Two-thirds of instructors who had converted face-to-face course to an online or hybrid (blended) class said that they spent less time lecturing (65%) and incorporated more active learning techniques into the new course (69%).

Based on the Inside Higher Ed survey, now more than 46% of faculty members have taught an online course.

Further, for those faculty that have taught online, 61% agree that online courses can produce equivalent student outcomes.

As far as the adoption of using technology in teaching:

  • Nearly four in 10 instructors (39 percent) say they fully support the increased use of educational technologies, up from 32 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2017.

  • Professors who support educational technologies say they do so because “some students simply cannot attend a face-to-face class due to work or family obligations“ (64%) and “students learn better when I engage them with effective technology tools“ (57%).

  • Rated colleges positively on encouraging experimentation with new approaches to teaching (56% agree) and providing adequate technical support for creating and teaching online courses (52% agree for both).

About eLearning and Emerging Technologies


eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate digital learning at GVSU through supporting faculty in delivering high quality, innovative teaching.

We support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and enhance student success through:

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