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Research Says Most College Students will Take Classes Online by 2014

Research firm Ambient Insight has conducted an in-depth analysis of the online education market and come up with some predictions based on current trends. According to an article in Campus Technology some 1.25 million students in higher education programs take all of their classes online, while another 10.65 million take some of their classes online. The two groups are still outnumbered by students who take all of their courses in physical classrooms, which Ambient Insight reckoned at 15.14 million as of 2009.

That ration won't last, says Ambient Insight Chief Research Officer Sam Adkins. By 2014, Adkins predicts that only 5.14 million students will be tethered to the classrooms, while 3.55 million students will be engaged in exclusively online degree programs, and 18.65 million students will be in "blended" programs that incorporate both classroom learning and distance learning.

The Ambient survey also looked specific growth areas in online education that included all levels of learning, not just college programs. However the highest growth rate will be at the college level in the area of health care. The continuing demand for graduates from nursing schools along with the expanding health care needs of an aging population will drive new students into the field.

The growth of health technology is putting more care into the hands of professionals from medical training schools and freeing physicians to engage in diagnostic work. There is also a trend developing that is driven by the marketplace, for professionals holding degrees in other disciplines to return to school for a clinical nursing degree or one of the medical technician fields.

The growth in distance learning won't just be with the colleges and universities. If fact, K-12 online teaching is expected to grow 18% by 2014, outpacing the post secondary education field in several respects. It's projections like this that are driving Kaplan into high school teaching.

Across all segments, the market for electronic learning products and services says Adkins, is $16.7 billion. According to the Ambient analysis this will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent over the next five years to $23.8 billion in 2014.

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