It’s no surprise that distance learning numbers for students spiked in 2020-2021, but while many schools are back to in-person instruction, distance learning continues to see a steady increase in popularity while the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “In spring 2020, some 87 percent of undergraduate students experienced any enrollment disruption or change at their postsecondary institution due to COVID-19, with 84 percent of students experiencing some or all in-person classes moved to online-only. 34 percent of students received technology or technical services from their postsecondary institution. These findings are based on preliminary data and may differ from estimates that will be available in the full survey sample and dataset released in 2022, which will address missing data in the findings.”
The numbers are quite an increase from pre-pandemic times, with the fall of 2019 reporting a mere 37% of college students (7.3 million) having been enrolled in at least one distance education course. The majority, 63% (12.3 million) were enrolled in in-person education. It’s important to note, however, that “of the 7.3 million postsecondary students enrolled in fall 2019 in any distance education course, 53 percent of students (3.9 million) were enrolled in distance education for at least one but not all of their courses, and 47 percent of students (3.5 million) were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses.”
Colleges are starting to embrace the shift to distance learning, offering more virtual, off-campus options for students wishing to learn remotely or for students unable to travel to campus during the pandemic. Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, MI, for example, offers flexible learning options for students. In-person classes are limited in number and are denoted at registration. Colleges like Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which are primarily online institutions, may also see a spike in enrollment due to the virtual nature of its degree programs.
College students -- are you back to in-person classes, fully virtual, or flex? Let us know in the comments!