Understanding Who Your Online Learners Are and What They Want

A new infographic published by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) highlights an abundance of stats and trends about today’s online learners. While the data may not be surprising for institutions already prioritizing their enrollment growth for online and post-traditional learners, it certainly sets the stage for critical conversations at institutions that aren’t yet set up to effectively serve today’s online students.

From targeting the right students for the right programs, to building a digital learning strategy that keeps students engaged, and delivering meaningful support through graduation, we’ve highlighted critical data points from the infographic to help you craft a conversation about how your institution is serving today’s students.

Who are today’s online learners?

  • 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses
  • 75% of undergrads are 25 and older
  • 85% of Americans enrolled in post secondary institutions are post-traditional learners
  • While over 1/2 of college students graduate within 6 years, the completion rate for low-income students is just 25%
  • 71% of graduates who earn a bachelor’s degree have student loans, up from 64% just 10 years ago
  • $35,000 on average is owed in student loans by the Class of 2015

What do online learners want from their program and institution?

  • 84% of students feel tech helps instructors teach better
  • 4 out of 5 students say universities and professors could do more with technology
  • 77% of institutions offering online learning say it’s crucial to their long-term strategy
  • Students report that tech increases engagement (77% with course materials; 64% with professors; and 50% with fellow students)
  • 85% of faculty report having very little experience with digital learning materials and open educational resources (OER)
  • By the Fall of 2018, it’s predicted that 48% of materials will be primarily digital

Where do you and your students fall among these findings, and what are you doing to make sure your institution and your students are set up for long-term success?

Learn more about the current state of online education in our recent Higher Ed Live podcast.

Murphy Monroe

Murphy is the Vice President of Operations and General Manager of Enterprise Services at Helix Education. Prior to joining Helix, Murphy served as Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management for Columbia College Chicago, where he implemented marketing and enrollment operations strategies that moved the college from regional to national status and dramatically improved the academic preparedness of incoming students.