Due to the lockdown in wake of the COVID-19 situation, almost all physical forms of education were completed shut down, hence, much of education today is conducted online. While some countries had already begun to implement e-learning measures before the pandemic, for others the shift was quite dramatic. Where the rest of world was already enjoying the perks of online education, the newbies to this platform were found bemoaning the loss of human contact in learning. Increasing populations of learners and educators, however, are questioning the advantages that brick-and-mortar learning institutions supposedly have over e-learning options. Hence, significant number of people are opting for more time- and money-friendly learning methods. Despite the recent upsurge in interest due to the pandemic, the e-learning sector has been steadily growing in recent years and is expected to grow by over $72 billion USD by 2024. Here are some factors contributing to the speedy expansion of the e-learning sector.
What is E-Learning?
E-learning, or electronic learning, integrates technology with formal teaching methods to augment or, at times, supplement classroom learning. E-learning techniques can be used in and out of the classroom, and range from live classes held via video chat to recorded learning content and even VR applications. E-learning systems typically utilize Learning Management Systems, or LMS, which use AI and data analysis to identify learning gaps and optimize e-learning techniques. Corporations and educational institutions alike employ LMS consulting to ensure that their trainings and classes best meet the needs of their employees and students, respectively. As distance learning is currently the safest option, everyone from major universities to local dance studios and tutoring centers have turned to e-learning; to stay afloat and keep their students learning from home.
Regardless of the e-learning trends are reshaping the classroom, the sector is also reshaping the market. The sector has grown some 900% in recent years, and aims to keep growing. Decreased costs of online content creation, increased internet access and increased demand for online learning content all, contribute to its expansion. Businesses enjoy savings when it comes to a decreased need for physical infrastructure, and passes those savings on to users. Learners also expect more personalized learning material suited for their learning style, time demands and interests. The lower consumer cost for e-learning has led many millennials and Z-generation to choose online programs over costly traditional programs. Hence, the convenience factor of being able to learn on your own time has made e-learning accessible to more segments of the population.
The predominance of mobile devices has led some experts to refer to e-learning as mobile learning, as more and more of it is occurring on smartphones. By 2018, 70 % of learners reported using their smartphones to access their learning materials. The meteoric rise of Zoom is just one segment of the market, with others exemplified by “gamified” learning apps like Duolingo and video-based learning apps such as Udemy. These applications embody three trends that show the sector is growing and innovating beyond the necessities of COVID-19 era learning:
- Micro Learning
Microlearning refers to the use of bite-sized modules meant to pinpoint specific areas of knowledge and help identify where students need work. These can take the form of online quizzes or games, and are short enough to hold the learner’s attention. This form of e-learning is increasingly popular as it tends to be more time efficient and is optimized to be highly relevant for learners.
Some microlearning is “gamified”, meaning that it contains a built-in reward system or features that liken it to a video game. This makes learning more immersive for students, and helps to improve both lesson completion rates and knowledge retention. This technique can be successfully combined with microlearning and even VR techniques, and is commonly applied in learning apps.
- The Rise of Video Content
A look at apps such as Tik-Tok and YouTube reveals the rising trend of video-driven online content creation. Internet users are increasingly turning to video content for everything; from entertainment to formal education and informal self-improvement. By 2022, video will constitute 82% of internet traffic. Lockdown measures around the world have led to a further increase in the amount of free and paid video-based learning resources that’s accessible to the consumers. Video content for e-learning is often segmented into subject matter, so students can quickly find the relevant learning materials. Similarly, video content can be re-watched easily, to help students reinforce previously learned information.
The Future of E-Learning
Even as COVID-19 era social distancing practices end, e-learning continues to be a convenient and effective resource for learners of all ages. Future applications of e-learning may integrate technologies such as VR; as they become cheaper, making the field even more versatile and immersive. One thing is clear, however; e-learning is growing fast, and it’s here to stay!