HotChalk Education Index Report: Sharing Online Education Insights

Last week, data-driven edtech company and Learning Management System creator HotChalk submitted an Education Index for the first quarter of 2013. The report reveals insights and trends around online education, which they compiled from the data they’ve collected from traffic on their Education Network. Their network provides free education content to millions of students, educators, administrators, and parents, and 25,000 of these users completed surveys which informed the Education Index.

The Education Index first shared impressive stats about HotChalk’s own network, which has grown in popularity and represents a nearly even distribution of students, parents, administrators, and educators, almost half of whom are currently enrolled in classes. HotChalk’s own network’s numbers are impressive, but what we’re interested in is the data they’ve collected regarding their users’ participation in online education.

Over half of those surveyed (54 percent) have completed or are currently enrolled in online courses. The fact that these users are participating in an online education network’s survey is of course telling of the high number of users who have taken online courses, but the number is still high regardless. Of that 54 percent, however, only 3 percent or so have received a degree or credential online, which indicates that brick-and-mortar institutions or blended learning program still eclipse online-only programs by far.

Teachers still favor on-site learning, with only a third preferring online education, but nearly half of students prefer online learning, a statistic that, frankly, surprised me. While I’m in favor of online education as a part of blended learning programs for a variety of reasons, I’d say that both as a former student and teacher who has taken online courses, I strongly preferred on-site education.

According to the survey,

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users were 14 times more likely to use free or mostly free content than paid education content. Teachers, students, and administrators all seem to agree that free is better: over two-thirds of those surveyed either only use or mostly use free content online. Perhaps what we’re seeing is a surge not in online education for credit, but a surge in search of OER and supplemental material that can be found online.

The surveys then asked teachers who pay for their own content in their classrooms whether they used printed or digital content more often. The report reveals that 42 percent of teachers use mostly printed content, and that 39 percent used about the same amount of both. Only 10 percent of teachers used mostly digital content, with none using only digital content.

Finally, the report asked HotChalk Network users which mobile devices they used to access education content online. Apple products still comprise the lion’s share of the education market represented, with 71 percent of users accessing content on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod.

HotChalk’s Education Index Report is certainly not comprehensive in regards to all aspects of online education, nor is it representative of everyone who has participated or is interested in participating in online education. Regardless, it’s an interesting sample, and the results are indicative that while online and digital courses and content still haven’t achieved widespread adoption, they’re becoming more popular than they’ve perhaps ever been. It will be interesting to see if this report is indicative of upcoming trends and changes in the online education and digital content space.

You can read the Education Index Report in full here.

Readers, what did you think about these numbers? Surprising? Telling? Predictable? Share your impressions in the comments below, or with us on Twitter to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.