Online college education continues to expand rapidly, says U.S. News & World Report: More than 4.6 million college students were taking at least one online course at the start of the 2008-09 school year—a 17-percent increase from 2007. That’s more than 1 in 4 college students. Two major factors for the soaring numbers are the sour economy and the possibility of an H1N1 flu virus outbreak, according to the seventh annual Sloan Survey of Online Learning report, titled “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States in 2009.” But, the survey’s authors say, there is a lot more work to be done, and there is still huge potential for online education to expand, especially at larger schools. “For the past several years, all of the growth—90-plus percent—is coming from existing traditional schools that are growing their current offerings,” says Jeff Seaman, one of the study’s authors. Despite significant growth and interest in online education, there are still some faculty members who balk at teaching online. The study found the acceptance of online education by faculty has remained constant since the first survey was published in 2002, and fewer than one-third of chief academic officers believe their faculty accepts the value and legitimacy of online education…

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staff and wire services reports