E-learning is certainly not new and has been popular for many years in the form of instructional courses online, videos, tutorials, apps and online teaching – but the art of online learning has reached new heights following the coronavirus pandemic which has forced millions of students and workers in the UK to work from home.
There are many dominant companies in the e-learning sector including the likes of Udemy for online courses, Coursera for academic work and using video-sharing platforms such as Zoom or Skype for teachers to conduct classes or tutoring.
On the educational side, there are pupils that use e-learning to keep up with the national curriculum and to pass upcoming exams. On a professional level, people use e-learning to upskill, boost their employability or enhance their personal development at their current job.
Studies show that the reason that e-learning boosts knowledge retention is largely due to it being conducted on the individual’s own terms.
For participants, they can pause, rewind, skip ahead and accelerate and tailor the learning to their strengths.
For organisations, the cost-cutting benefits are apparent, since training online is far more economic than attending training courses for several days, often out of the office or overseas. The time-saving benefits are acknowledged too, with learners able to use the likes of Hubspot, Adwords or RQC Group to take a course online, learn a skill, gain a certification and start utilising it immediately.
The future of e-learning remains positive, with AR or VR technology likely to be integrated into the mix and already talk of machine learning to learn the patterns of individual learners and re-focus the course to meet their strengths and weaknesses.
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.”
However, there remain significant challenges of e-learning too, notably the accessibility of the Internet and computers. In the US, a study showed that children aged 15 from comfortable backgrounds typically had a computer, compared to only 25% of 15-year olds classed as being from a disadvantaged background.
Globally, 95% of students in Switzerland, Norway, and Austria have a computer to use for their schoolwork, but only 34% in Indonesia do, according to OECD data.
Nonetheless, coronavirus has pathed the way for e-learning to be further integrated at schools and the workplace and it will not doubt become a regular part of daily life.