Updated: Oct 30, 2019
The digital age has brought about a constant need for upskilling & relearning. Cue: eLearning, a global phenomenon which is coming of age. What are some of the benefits?
By 2022, the global e-learning market is expected to account for a whopping $275.10 billion, indicating huge demand worldwide for on the go, high quality learning material.
Why? Industries across the board are rife with digital transformation, creating a growing requirement for learning content which addresses the gaps in knowledge, and empowers staff to evolve with their respective industries.
When did eLearning rise to fame?
eLearning rose to fame in 2008 with the MOOC - Massive Open Online Courses. These were game changers for learning institutions and industries alike, as a MOOC:
- Facilitates unlimited participation
- Is openly accessible via the web
- With interactive user forums
What exactly does that mean? Well, MOOC’s typically take courses which were only available to the elite few at top institutions (e.g. Harvard, MIT) and make them readily available online, giving them massive scale.
MOOC's vs. Digital Academies
In addition to the proliferation of MOOCs, online academies offering short courses to gear learners up to get into and excel in, just about any discipline. Online academies are slightly differently in that they are typically for profit offerings which boast high quality training material, which may or may not be associated or certified by universities.
The Key Benefits of eLearning
What exactly are some of the attributes which make the concept of eLearning so appealing?
1. Flexible, self paced learning
The quote which I believe best sums up the benefits of learning at your own pace is one by the founder of Khan Academy, Sal Khal.
The Khan Academy Model
“The Khan academy model is: learn math the way you’d learn anything, like riding a bicycle. Stay on that bicycle. Fall of that bicycle. Do it as long as necessary until you have mastery. The traditional model penalizes you for experimentation and failure, but it does expect mastery. We encourage you to experiment. We encourage you to fail. We do expect mastery.”
Because eLearning offers learners the unique ability to study in their own time, at their own pace, it also means that regardless of your "baseline" knowledge, you can successfully conquer more complicated concepts without worrying about being left behind or failing because you feel under prepared. This also rings true of working in a high pressured environment, where its more likely that a learner wants to dip into resources as and when required.
Even from the standpoint of a full time student with no other time commitments, in a physical lecture hall, students may battle to see the board, hear the lecturer or miss key points of the lecture by taking notes. Many of these practical considerations are completely eliminated by eLearning thanks to on demand video, meaning that students can pause, rewind or fast forward at any point.
Therefore the flexibility of eLearning makes it more appealing than traditional learning models.
2. Supplementary Resources
In addition to course material, additional resources can be housed on eLearning portals to provide further context or explanations to certain topics. This means that eLearning academies are able to cater for students who:
(a) Need greater support by way of background information
(b) Have the interest and inclination to dive even deeper into course content
3. Lifetime Access
eLearning academies and MOOC's will offer access to the resources anywhere from three months after the course to lifetime access. This means that students can refer back to material, making it that much more valuable.
4. Teaching at scale for greater impact
In the TED Talk "What we're learning from online education" from Daphne Koller, the co-founder of Coursera says that the Machine Learning class at Stanford typically had 400 enrolments every time it was offered. Once the course was put online in an eLearning format, 100,000 people registered. In order for the lecturer to have the same impact in a physical format, he would have to teach for 250 years.
5. Cost Effective
Due to ability to scale, courses are far more cost effective than traditional learning models. They can be created once, either by filming a live lecture or by creating bespoke training content, and accessed at any point by learners from anywhere at anytime.
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