January 30, 2024
The number of students participating in online learning is continuing a post-pandemic decline, new enrollment data show.
In the 2022–23 academic year, a little over half of U.S. students—53 percent—were enrolled in at least one online course, according to National Center for Education Statistics data released last week. That dipped from 2021’s fall enrollment, which counted 59 percent of students online in some way.
The decline was not unexpected given the surge of remote learning during the 2019–20 academic year, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the gradual three-year decline, the popularity of online learning still stayed above pre-pandemic levels. In 2018–19, only 35 percent of students took online courses.
“It’s a continued sign of going mainstream,” said Richard Garrett, chief research officer at Eduventures. “Twenty-twenty was an aberration and, yes, online enrollment went down in ’21 and down again in ’22. If it went on the curve we were expecting, then I’d say COVID just a wash, but these numbers show it as a net positive.”