If you haven't already discovered the Sloan Consortium's research work on onlined education, then you are missing valuable background information to plan your future marketing efforts in the online world.
Go along to http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/survey06.asp for a summary of the findings from "Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006." If the summary is interesting enough, you can download a free PDF with the full report.
Chief Academic Officers Say Online Quality is Fine
Most encouraging is the news that Chief Academic Officers believe the quality of online education is at least as good, and sometimes better, that the traditional format.
This survey focuses on the Fall of 2005. The great majority of online students, as is the case in higher education overall, are undergraduates. But 443,000 were taking master's degree courses and 39,000 were in "first professional" programs.
Online Enrollments Will Continue to Grow
Looking ahead, a key finding is that enrollment growth online is expected to continue to grow. And that means more undergraduates emerging with bachelor's degrees who might well be looking at online programs as a strong choice to coninue their education while also grappling with new employment demands.
If part of the future marketing success of your institution rests with post-bachelor's education, then online programs are an inevitable part of your future. So far, that seems to favor larger schools over smaller ones with fewer resources to devote to an online effort. The 2006 survey results show that online education is "critical to the long term strategy of my institution" for 65.1% of the respondents, a steady climb from the 46.5% saying that in the 2003 survey.