Interest in Online Courses Could Be Peaking

A study shows that interest in online courses has remained flat in recent years.

San Jose State University is one of several institutions aiming to improve education through MOOCs.

San Jose State University is one of several institutions aiming to improve education through MOOCs.

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Although perceptions and preferences among adults lean heavily toward in-class instruction, Ng believes the growth of massive open online courses, provided by companies such as Coursea, edX, and Udacity, will change outlooks in the long term.

[Discover free options for online education programs.]

Coursera alone has 33 member schools, including Stanford, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, offering free online courses, and the company recently announced that it passed 1 million student enrollments. Having top-ranked universities offer courses through the online delivery model will ultimately have a strong influence on adults' perspectives on online education, Ng says.

"We all trust prestigious universities to have high standards," he notes. "From a student perspective, if you go online and take a class through Princeton, there's something reassuring that it's a Princeton course. When you put on a résumé that you took a course from a Princeton professor, that means something."

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