New Research from IDC Indicates Distance Learning Takes Off, Fueled by Growth in Internet Access

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., February 9, 1999 – Distance learning, where student and teacher are connected by technology rather than a classroom, is becoming a viable option to traditional teaching methods, and is poised for major growth over the next several years. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), the number of college students enrolled in distance-learning courses will reach 2.2 million in 2002, up from 710,000 in 1998. "Advancements in technology are breaking down barriers and changing the way teachers can interact with students," said Sau Ching Lau, senior analyst for IDC's Education Markets Research program. "The Internet is the catalyst attracting more schools and students to Distance Learning than ever before."

The number of higher education institutions offering distance-learning programs is also growing dramatically. By 2002, 85 percent of two-year colleges will be offering distance-learning courses, up from 58 percent in 1998. Eighty-four percent of four-year colleges will be offering distance-learning courses in 2002, up from 62 percent in 1998.

For the past twenty years, distance learning, or distance education, has been delivered primarily through video tapes and closed circuit TV. Over the past two years, however, the Internet has completely changed the distance learning landscape — scope, content, and the delivery of distance education are now dramatically different, while distance learning courses are more widely available. Schools and students are the natural beneficiaries of new distance learning solutions, but so too are technology providers like computer hardware, software, and networking vendors.

Opportunities Abound for Technology Providers

As distance learning becomes a serious alternative to the standard classroom environment, enormous opportunities present themselves. Software developers, telecommunications companies, hardware makers, publishers, Internet and Web service providers, and many other technology- and education-based services are developing systems for this emerging market that capitalize on the special capabilities of different technologies.

IDC's report, Online Distance Learning in Higher Education, 1998-2002, profiles some of the hardware, software, and networking vendors who have made significant early commitments to supporting the distance learning market.

Derived from both end-user and supply-side information, this report chronicles the major shift underway at two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and in the emerging online educational institutions, such as the University of Phoenix and Western Governor’s University. The report also discusses vendor strategies and how vendors can help a potential customer create a business plan for technology implementation, concluding that the key to success is to educate the educators.

· The number of students enrolling in higher education distance-learning courses will continue to grow consistently over the next five years with a CAGR of 33.1%.

· By 2002, the number of students taking distance-learning courses will represent 15% of all higher education students, up from 5% in 1998.

Source: International Data Corporation, 1999

IDC's Online Distance Learning in Higher Education, 1998?2002 report is available for purchase by contacting Janis Dempsey at 800-343-4952. Reports can also be ordered on IDC’s web site (

About IDC

International Data Corporation is the information technology industry’s most comprehensive resource on worldwide IT markets, trends, products, vendors, and geographies. IDC provides data, analysis and advisory services to the world’s leading IT suppliers as well IS professionals in finance, insurance, entertainment, advertising, consumer goods and publishing. IDC’s research and opinions are based on the results of more than 300,000 end-user surveys, in-depth competitive analysis, broad technology coverage, and strategic analysis. IDC is committed to providing global research with local content through its 500 analysts in more than 40 countries worldwide. Additional information on IDC can be found on its Web site at

IDC is a division of International Data Group, the world’s leading IT media, research, and exposition company


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