Based on data accumulated by the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys from the Fall of 2014, the WCET Distance Education Enrollment Report 2016 highlights differences by sector, graduate vs. undergraduate study, student location, and by the number of institutions educating students at a distance. Our aim is to enlighten readers about the current state of the industry through graphs, data tables, observations, and commentary based on our insights.
Previous WCET work on IPEDS Distance Education Data
WCET has analyzed the Distance Education data reported to IPEDS since it first became available. Previous findings have been reported through the WCET Frontiers Blog.
Fall 2012 Data Blogs:
"U.S. Distance Education Adoption by the Numbers: an IPEDS Reality Check"
"Where in the World Are Our Distance Education Students?: IPEDS Reality Check"
"Colleges Crossing Borders—Counts and State Authorization: IPEDS Reality Check"
Fall 2013 Data Blogs:
"IPEDS Fall 2013: Higher Ed Sectors Vary Greatly in Distance Ed Enrollments"
"IPEDS Fall 2013: Distance Education Data Reveals More Than Overall Flat Growth"
"IPEDS Fall 2013: Less than Half of Fully Distant Students Come from Other States"
"Busting the Myth: Distance Education Enrollment Infographic"
Russ Poulin and Terri Straut (WCET) partnered with Phil Hill (e-Literate blog) to investigate the nature of data reporting anomalies. WCET also conducted a non-scientific canvassing of a sample of colleges and universities whose IPEDS Distance Education reporting seemed incongruous with their size or Distance Education operations. This research resulted in the identification of a number of ways that institutions IPEDS reporting regarding Distance Education was inaccurate: "Investigation of IPEDS Distance Education Data: Systems Not Ready for Modern Trends " and was reported by Inside Higher Ed .
Our Partner on this Report: Babson Survey Research Group
WCET was pleased to partner with the Babson Survey Research Group for this report. We pooled resources to create a data set of institutional responses that improved on our separate work from previous years. Highlights of this report are included in Babson's Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States.