Are Online Programs Growing or Dying?

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

Judith McDaniel, in her response (28 May 2009) to John Sener‘s article, “The Recession Is Affecting Online Higher Education – Duh…,” points us to an article that appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Rocky Start for Colorado State U.’s Online-Education Start-Up” (28 May 2009). She gives us a paradox to think about. As we receive glowing reports on the growth of online programs, we’re also seeing signs of their possible demise.


I did a quick google and found two more articles that suggest a decline. Citing “low and declining enrollment,” Butler Tech is eliminating one of its three online learning programs (Lindsey Hilty, “District to Revamp Online Programs,” JournalNews 5.31.09). The Navy, in response to a lack of funding, is dropping nearly 4,000 online courses (David J. Carter, “Navy Cuts Online Business, Technology Courses,” Stars and Stripes 6.2.09).

Which is it? And perhaps more importantly, why are we getting these mixed messages?