The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the lives of people everywhere—disrupting the traditional ways of working, learning and socializing. The healthcare crisis also exposed the vulnerabilities of various industries around the world, prompting numerous organizations to rapidly adapt to the digital world. Education is no exception, and with research and consulting companies like Arizton announcing that the total e-learning market value peaked at $214.21 billion in 2021, it looks like online education is here to stay. In fact, the global e-learning market could reach $475.60 billion by 2027.
Online learning gained momentum even before COVID-19, but it was during the course of the pandemic that schools and universities across the world decided to expand their online programs. While people are now returning to normal with traditional teaching in classrooms, e-learning and hybrid learning provide benefits that are difficult to ignore. New technologies like virtual reality (VR) are also reshaping e-learning—boosting the ability to offer hands-on courses online. Moreover, new-generation students are more likely to pursue online degrees or nanodegrees.
Data shows that 30% of higher education students in the US are already making use of the various benefits of e-learning, taking at least one distance learning course. This number and the benefits of e-learning are likely to increase over the next few years.
One of the most important benefits of e-learning is undoubtedly the fact that it allows students to learn almost anywhere and at any time. Instead of going to traditional classes, they only need a small private space and a personal computer or laptop. Furthermore, online learning allows both teachers and students to set their own learning pace—increasing flexibility by allowing them to create schedules specifically designed for their unique needs. Maybe even more important is the fact that, with e-learning, students and teachers can make flexibility global with teachers in one part of the world educating students on other continents.
Studying in the US can be expensive, and with the Department of Education saying that the average tuition for the 2019–2022 academic year was the first to exceed the price of tuition since the 2010–2011 academic year, it seems that Americans risk sinking even deeper into education debt. The same cannot be said about online courses. Several open educational resources (OER) already provide learners with free education programs designed to boost their skills at no cost, while some well-known colleges are offering cheaper degree programs online. While the digital divide is still an important issue that a large number of US students face, more and more people can now enjoy the advantages of online education if they own a computer, and have access to high-speed internet.
The New Technology
Keeping up with new technological breakthroughs has never been easy, and it has become even harder in the digital age. However, e-learning now provides students and teachers with the opportunity to become more digitally-savvy faster than ever before, by making them use laptops, webcams, microphones, educational platforms and video conferencing apps. Online students also interact with each other and with their teachers through various apps and platforms—which may help them develop soft skills that will be beneficial in the future. By working with new technologies, applications and platforms, online learners will thrive in the digital age.
Students are not alone in discovering the key benefits of e-learning, nor in embracing them. In fact, more and more companies are now signing their employees up for online courses and training sessions. Managers in the US and abroad have come to realize just how important it is to encourage workers to learn new skills, keep up with the latest trends, and to develop new abilities. Recent data highlights that e-learning was used by 77% of US companies in 2017, while 98% of all American companies planned to make online education an important part of their future strategy.
E-learning can be highly beneficial to students, companies, teachers, and online course providers—and it offers significant outcomes. By allowing people to study remotely and to enroll in different courses of their choosing, online education helps them learn at their own pace, rather than rushing them to keep up with their classmates or exposing them to heavy workloads. Unlike traditional courses, online programs allow students to regain access to important information they may have missed by simply replaying videos or rereading a course. Every student can do this as often as needed, which makes for a higher retention rate and better chances for success.