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Reflecting a nationwide expanding trend of interest in distance learning, more and more students in the Oregon State University system are trying out distance education. Whether turning to this state system or any of the online schools in Oregon for choices, students in Oregon can find certificate and degree programs available as well as the opportunity to pursue individual classes.

Online Colleges in Oregon

Online schools in Oregon have improved over time, offering more coursework and better technology, and attracting an increased number of students through the benefits of distance learning. In addition, with today's technology, online learning can be as rigorous and comprehensive as offerings found through traditional campus-based classes.

In Oregon, online enrollments are on the increase. The Oregon University System (ous.edu) reports that as of the 2010-11 school year, 26.2 percent of its students had taken at least one distance education course. This was a gradual enrollment increase from the 2004-05 school year, when that number was 17.9 percent. Nationwide, online enrollments are also on the uptick. A recent report from the Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org) shows that nearly one-third of the student population, or 32 percent, had taken at least one course online in the fall of 2011. In the fall of 2004, that number was 13.5 percent.

Trends in Oregon Online Schools

In 2011, the Oregon Legislature approved an educational attainment goal known as 40-40-20. The goal seeks to have 40 percent of adult residents with a bachelor's degree or higher by 2025. Additionally, the plan aims to have 40 percent of adults with an associate degree or certificate, and the remaining 20 percent with at least a high school diploma by 2025. Online schools in Oregon could play an integral role in the effort toward achieving this goal.

The Postsecondary Quality Education Commission prepared a report in 2010 outlining the strategies by which higher education could be promoted in anticipation of the 40-40-20 goal. According to the report, offering more flexible class scheduling and a more creative delivery of material, including distance education, are two ways to improve degree attainment.

The movement toward online learning in Oregon is starting as early as middle school. The state now offers its Oregon Virtual Education, or ORVED, program, which is available to some public school students in grades six through 12. Classes are taught by Oregon educators who received special training for teaching online. ORVED is continuing to expand, but in its current capacity it includes online offerings as unique as photography and physical education. As for flexibility, the online school in Oregon offers ongoing enrollment, with classes that students can start every Monday.

Online College Degrees in Oregon

The 40-40-20 goal is especially important as degrees become increasingly important for some occupations. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (cew.georgetown.edu) predicts that 64 percent of jobs in Oregon will require postsecondary training by 2018. Some of the fields expected to be most in need of degree holders are those for education, health care, office and administrative support, and sales. In fact, between 2008 and 2018, approximately 123,000 new jobs that require postsecondary training are expected open up in Oregon.

While more jobs in Oregon are expected to necessitate some degree of college training, data from the Lumina Foundation (luminafoundation.org) finds that the number of degree holders in the state may lag far behind that need. In 2010, 38.6 percent of adult Oregonians held at least a two-year degree, but the foundation estimates that more than 350,000 additional degrees will be required by 2025 to meet workforce demands. Online colleges in Oregon may also be able to assist in filling this need, by offering various alternatives to adults who need the flexibility to start or continue with their education.

Online Colleges in Oregon

Online degrees in Oregon are available through a variety of sources, such as public institutions, private schools and colleges that are designed to be fully online. Oregon State University operates its Ecampus (ecampus.oregonstate.edu) program, making some of its in-demand degree programs available through an online format. In total, OSU offers more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees through its Ecampus.

The University of Oregon (de.uoregon.edu) offers online coursework in 12 subject areas. These courses are available for enrollment in any of the school's four online terms: fall, winter, spring and summer. Private schools, such as Portland's Concordia University (cu-portland.edu), also offer online programming. This school's interactive offerings use a software interface known as Blackboard, and the school offers certificates and associate degrees in subjects including education.

Sources:
Postsecondary Quality Education Commission, Achieving the 40% 40% 20% Goal in Oregon, 2010
Concordia University
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Oregon Projections, 2010
Lumina Foundation
Oregon University System, Facts and Figures, 2011
Oregon University System, 40-40-20 Resources and Initiatives
Oregon University System, Postsecondary Quality Education Commission Report, 2010
Sloan Consortium, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2012
University of Oregon Distance Education

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