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While some feel that online education may not be as good as face-to-face learning, many studies are now available that prove otherwise.

Gallup poll conducted in early October found that online learning programs are viewed by American as lacking in four key areas compared to traditional classroom instruction. The poll of over 1,000 adults found that online education has “less rigorous testing and grading, less qualified instructors, and has less credence with employers compared with traditional, classroom-based education.”

There are many factors that contribute to the decisions of students to take an online course versus traditional classroom instruction. Some of these include full time workers, older adults seeking renewed learning and students who are parents. These characteristics therefore must be considered in determining the success of online versus traditional. However, numerous studies have shown that online education is at least as effective or more effective than face-to-face instruction.

A 2012 Babson Survey Group report, in collaboration with the Sloan Consortium and Pearson Education, surveyed 2,800 academic leaders and found that over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course. This represents 33.6 percent of the  19.9 million Americans who were enrolled in some form of higher education in 2012.

The same Babson survey found that 77 percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face classes. Additionally, the proportion of chief academic leaders who say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at a new high of 69.1 percent.

Whatever the case, online learning isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Enrollment continues to grow at a rate faster than face-to-face instruction. In April 2013, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) released it’s 2012 Distance Education Survey and found that distance learning programs grew by 6.52 percent and overall institution enrollment dropped by 2.64 percent.

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