A study conducted by the Sloan Consortium, the College Board, and the Babson Survey Research Group called "Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009" found that more than 4.6 million college and university students (about 25% of higher education students) took at least one online course during the fall 2008 semester. This represents a 17 percent increase over the number reported in 2007 and greatly exceeds the overall higher education growth rate of 1.2 percent. For the past six years, online enrollments have been growing faster than overall higher education enrollment and the most recent data continues this trend.
The report also says the economy is contributing to the high growth rate in online education. A large number of the respondents reported that the economic downturn created increased demand for both face-to-face and online courses. Of the 2,590 colleges and universities that participated in the survey, 66 percent of institutions reported increased demand for new online courses and programs and 73 percent reported increased demand for existing online courses and programs.
To find out more, you can view the full report via the link above. In addition, an article from Campus Technology features a video of Babson College associate professor, Elaine Allen, discussing the findings.