Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Anytime, Anyplace Learning

History

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program in online education, known as Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN), was established in 1992 to explore education alternatives for people who cannot easily attend regularly scheduled campus classes. Once feasibility of online education as an effective method had been established, the Foundation then focused on expanding course and degree offerings across a range of disciplines at a range of institutions e.g major universities, smaller degree-granting institutions and community colleges. Rapid evolution of the newly accessible internet, and equivalent advances in computers, software and communication bandwidth aided the rapid rise of online education as an important element of learning in both higher education and corporate training. It is now penetrating education applications for K-12 also.

The 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning found that about 3.7 million learners, or over 20% of all students enrolled in American accredited, degree-granting institutions, took at least one course online . Over the past six years that this survey has been conducted, enrollments in online courses have increased at a 20% per year rate. A majority of chief academic officers at institutions surveyed, now believe online learning is as effective as traditional, face-to-face instruction, and number so positively inclined continues to increase year to year.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the Sloan Consortium demonstrated its quick-reaction capability. Within one week it secured a $1.1 million Sloan Foundation grant to assemble a virtual university and provide tuition-free courses to displaced students. Known as Sloan Semester, the virtual university offered nearly 1500 online courses from 175 institutions nationwide to 2000 students.

Today the foundation’s Anytime, Anyplace Learning program is continues to support high quality online education and training through the many services provided by Sloan-C. Member institutions of Sloan-C are the leaders in providing online education and their course and degree offerings continue to grow. Sloan-C also supports special efforts aimed at quality education anytime/anyplace for the minority community; it additionally supports initiatives aimed at other special populations; for example its assistance to the U.S. Army during the formative period of eArmyU, and its initiatives in corporate training and education online for workers in selected industries such as telecommunications (see www.NACTEL.org) and electric power generation and distribution (see www.epceonline.org).

Membership in Sloan-C is available through their web-site.