Canadians Ready for E-Learning

Canadians are furthering their educational efforts through online courses, an Ipsos-Reid report reveals. Based on 2,000 interviews via telephone and Internet, the survey indicated that 59 percent of the Canadian respondents were likely to take an online course in the future.

“The level of interest in online education is significant when compared to more traditional online activities such as online banking, downloading music, e-commerce, and online travel,” says Marcie Sayiner, senior research manager at Ipsos-Reid.

The survey revealed that 26 percent have already searched the Internet for online courses, and have either taken an online course (8 percent), or have taken an in-person course that includes a significant online component (7 percent).

Furthermore, 90 percent of the group that have already taken courses online said that they would recommend it to others mainly because it saved them a significant amount of time, it improved their employability, and it provided them with a means to take courses they likely wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

“By studying online or through other forms of distance learning, diploma holders working to complete a degree may do so without giving up a job, leaving home, or being tied to a fixed schedule. Students could complete the requirements for this degree in as little as one year,” Dr. John Newark, director of Athabasca University’s new Bachelor of Management program.

The Internet has impacted those who prefer more traditional offline education too. Almost one-quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed have searched the Web to find in-person educational courses at traditional institutions, and 82 percent indicate they would be likely to use the Internet as a background information gathering resource for traditional offline educational opportunities.

“Canadian Internet users often consider the Internet a key first step in exploring their educational opportunities,” says Sayiner. “Besides being an effective medium for the actual delivery of online educational content, the Internet is a significant marketing tool for institutions who are offering traditional, in-person educational courses.”

The proliferation of Internet students is evident at Athabasca University, a Canadian distance education and online university that has doubled its enrollments over a six-year period to 22,000 students per year.

Athabasca University’s Class of 2002 includes 678 graduates, up from 542 in 2001, and four times larger than the Class of 1994’s 163 graduates. In addition to degrees, in the past year the University conferred 524 advanced graduate diplomas, university certificates, and university diplomas, bringing the total number of credentials to 1202, up nearly 400 from last year.

The high concentration of Canadian online students might be attributed to the significant increase in broadband subscriptions. According to the Yankee Group, high-speed subscriptions increased from approximately 1.3 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2001, with revenues increasing 89 percent, from $262 million to $496 million.

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