The role of online education and e-learning has exploded in the last decade, as pupils have greater access to education online and working professionals look to upskill online.
Forecasts from Research and Markets estimate the value of online education to be worth around $350 billion by the 2025, without taking coronavirus into consideration, in which case the number could be considerably higher.
E-learning as a definition refers to any ability to learn through computers and the internet. This can translate to e-books, videos, online classes or tutorials run by teachers or tutors, online courses, language apps and more.
In the classroom, pupils have had to succumb to online learning as approximately 1.2 billion children were required to stay home during the coronavirus lockdown – and continue to do so.
On a corporate and professional level, 44% of the UK’s work population (around 5 million people) have been required to work (and learn) from home, many of whom for the first time, and this figure is up from 19% in 2019.
The advantages of e-learning are clear to see. Participants have the ability to learn in the comfort of the environment they choose, at their own pace, their own time schedule and their own level of ability.
In education, research shows that on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is mostly due to the students being able to learn faster online; e-learning requires 40-60% less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can go back, re-read material, skip or accelerate through concepts as they choose. There is also the lack of classroom distractions and time spent managing a large classroom, often where pupils work at different paces.
In business, managers not only highlight the benefits of their staff to upskill, but also the cost effectiveness. Online courses are far more affordable than face-to-face training courses and do not generate any commuting costs. Sometimes, required course materials, such as textbooks, are available completely online, with no further cost. There is also the amount of time that is saved learning online, rather than attending courses and completing examinations elsewhere, with workers able to dedicate more time to practicing their skills once completed.
Online learning for businesses and freelancers is not new. There have been many global players for years, including Udemy and Coursera.
Udemy president Darren Shimkus says, “The biggest challenge is for learners is to figure out what skills are emerging, what they can do to compete best in the global market. We’re in a world that’s changing so quickly that skills that were valued just three or four years ago are no longer relevant.”
A spokesperson from financial compliance firm RQC Group commented: “We firmly believe in e-learning. We have leveraged our long standing expertise in UK and US compliance and training course delivery to create our own online compliance courses to help with senior managers and staff. The role of e-learning in corporations will grow significantly in the years to come and it is now a key growth strategy of ours.”
The future of e-learning remains positive and is set to maintain its popularity beyond covid-19.
It would not be surprising to see more elements in the e-learning structure to include things such as VR/AR or more advanced machine learning algorithms to understand the user better and how they learn.
Wang Tao, Vice President of Tencent Cloud and Vice President of Tencent Education said: “I believe that the integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education.”