The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) launched a new report examining the new IPEDS information on distance education. The report, named Enrollment in Distance Education Programs by State, is a welcome addition to those enthusiastic about testing and knowing the condition of distance education (mostly as an online format) in US higher education.
The Fall Enrollment part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System or IPEDS, study gathered information for the first time on enrollment in courses in which educational content was offered specifically through distance education, described in IPEDS as “education that uses one or more technological innovation to provide training to learners who are separated from the trainer and to support frequent and purposeful interaction between the learners and the trainer synchronously or asynchronously.” These Web Tables provide current information of enrollment in distance education courses across states and in various types of organizations. They are designed to serve as a useful guideline for monitoring future trends, particularly as certain states and organizations concentrate on MOOCs and other online learning projects from a policy viewpoint.
From one viewpoint, this is extensive because NCES is enjoying a crucial part in offering the raw information for professionals to analyze. It is also easy to understand that since this was the first IPEDS study regarding distance education in many years, there truly was no guideline information for evaluation. Even so, a few features of important information factors would have been beneficial.
There is also a deficiency of caveats. The largest one has to do with the state-by-state studies. Enrollments follow where the organization is situated and not where the college student is situated while taking the distance courses. Consider Arizona: the state has several organizations (Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Rio Salado College, and the University of Phoenix) with huge numbers of enrollments in other states. Those enrollments are all mentioned in Arizona, so the state-by-state evaluations have specific definitions that might not be obvious without some viewpoint offered. Even though there are no features, the first two sections contain a selection of sources to prior research. These details beg the query as to what the tables in this report have to say on the same factors of research.