Trying to Make Sense of Online Learning Globally

July 25, 2018

A new report from the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education examines the state of global online higher education, building off a series of country- or region-specific case studies produced by the organization. The report, which is free to the British group's members and otherwise available for purchase, acknowledges that -- because it derives its conclusions from case studies of 12 very diverse approaches -- it "should not be viewed as a comprehensive account of online higher education globally."

But it nonetheless offers analysis on overarching trends, and because it is written by the deeply knowledgeable Richard Garrett of Eduventures, digital learning leaders are likely to find it useful.

Among its findings:

  • The report divides the countries and regions into five categories: those where there is distance education but not online (Egypt and India); where online learning is marginal (Saudi Arabia and sub-Saharan Africa); where "blurred growth" (defined as "a poorly defined combination of informal, distance and online learning" is outpacing traditional enrollment) is occurring (Mexico and Spain); where there is clear online growth (the U.S.); and where online enrollments appear to have peaked (England and South Korea).
  • Data remain limited in many countries, impeding clear assessments of the state of things.
  • Much online learning is led by individual faculty members rather than institutional strategy.


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