US survey suggests students, employers remain skeptical of online learning

September 20, 2013

A recent telephone survey of 656 employers in 4 major US cities found that 56% would prefer a candidate with a traditional degree from an “average college” to one with an online degree from a “top institution.” About half of employers believe students in online programs learn about the same amount (49% same, 4% more), that online programs demand more discipline (45% more, 29% same), and that online programs are equally hard to pass (41% same, 13% harder). That leaves a substantial minority of employers, however, who believe students learn less online (42%), need less discipline (23%), and that online programs are easier to pass (39%). Fully 82% of employers believe that hybrid programs are better than online-only programs. On the other hand, a “nationally representative” sample of 215 US community college students said that online courses demand more discipline (61%) and are harder to pass, but 42% believe that students learn less. (Notably less than half of the students surveyed were taking any online courses, and in this small sample the margin of error is ±8%.)  Public Agenda report(PDF)