Friday, July 11, 2008

High Cost of Driving Ignites Online Classes Boom - SAM DILLON, New York Times

First, Ryan Gibbons bought a Hyundai so he would not have to drive his gas-guzzling Chevy Blazer to college classes here. When fuel prices kept rising, he cut expenses again, eliminating two campus visits a week by enrolling in an online version of one of his courses.Ryan Gibbons studies online to avoid gasoline costs. Like Mr. Gibbons, thousands of students nationwide, including many who were previously reluctant to study online, have suddenly decided to take one or more college classes over the Internet.


Robert Zotti said...

While there is plenty of anecdotal data about rising gas prices leading to higher online course enrollments, I think it is just one factor that has been contributing to the growth of online courses. Better technology and teaching practices that make online classes more effective than they were just 3 or 4 years ago, plus tighter schedules that make commuting to campus harder for people (regardless of gas prices), are two major factors. The growth of summer enrollments in online courses at Stevens Institute of Technology during the past several years is shown below:

Year Summer Enrollments
2008 - 936
2007 - 704
2006 - 576
2005 - 320
2004 - 138

Much of this growth I would also attribute to more of our traditional classroom-based courses being made available online.

R. Zotti
Director, Online Learning
Stevens Institute of Technology

Ray said...


Yes, I think this is one factor. We just passed our 30th straight semester (including summer sessions) of increased enrollments each term.

But, I do think we are beginning to see a further shift among those commuting students who attend institutions that do not have online/blended options. That is good news for those with online programs such as Stevens and UIS; less good news for those who do not offer online or blended options.