Download Report: California Community Colleges Distance Education Report for 1995-96 through 2003-04

June 16, 2005

The report shows that most distance-education students are now enrolled in online courses. As the report notes: “Since 2001-02 the number of Internet-based courses have increased by 5,715 course sessions [sections] to a total of 8,735 course sessions offered during 2003-04. During the same period of time, telecourses decreased by 555 course sessions from 3,895 in 2001-02 to 3,340 in 2003-04.” In 2003-04, Internet-based instruction accounted for nearly three times the “full-time equivalent students” (FTES) that telecourse-based instruction did.

Among the report’s other highlights:

  • Distance education completion rates have stabilized at 57 percent the past three years, having risen from 52 percent in 1995-96. This trend has narrowed the gap between student success in distance education and non-distance education from 13 percentage points in 1995-96 to seven percentage points in 2003-04.
  • Institutions are gradually adding full degree and certificate programs for distance education, making these degree and certificate programs more readily accessible to students. Fifteen campuses responding to the survey in 2002-03 reported having a DE degree or certificate program. In 2003-04 seven of the 48 campuses (14 percent) responding to the survey offered DE degree and certificate programs.
  • Student Satisfaction Surveys reveal that the most important reasons for taking a distance education course is its convenience, followed by the need to fulfill requirements for an associate degree or transfer.
The full report is available at

On the basis of 1998-2004 enrollment statistics reported to the Chancellor’s Office by the colleges, and acknowledging that events could certainly change this projection, it is estimated that by 2015-16, as much as 20 percent of total community college system enrollment may be in distance education courses. Two years ago, 6.87 percent of the system’s enrollment was in distance education. In 2003-04, that number increased to 8.6 percent. The projection probably understates the growing importance of online course delivery since it omits hybrid classes that have a substantial proportion of their “meetings” online, but that are not considered distance classes.

A chart with this projection is available at our California Virtual Campus Professional Development Center website at