I recently asked a colleague how their business is doing right now with the economic uncertainty in the Covid era and the answer they gave was “great!”
Do you know why? It’s because they offer online education services.
With more and more businesses and individuals going online – and staying there – it stands to reason that online education is going to be the Next Big Thing in 2020. Even institutions at the beginning of the education ladder – primary schools – have a growing number of online components in their curriculums.
Who is Online in 2020?
Before we delve into the finer points of online education let’s look at some facts and figures – the science around why this sector is set to take off.
With Covid dominating 2020, statistics show that at any given moment in time around 4.57 billion people are actively engaged in online activity – that’s nearly 60% of the world’s population, with China, India and the USA leading the way in in terms of internet use.
Between January and March of 2020 Zoom and Google Classroom went from around 2 million users in the USA to between 4 and 6 million users. Around the world, schools and offices have moved into living rooms and basements and the impact this is having on how we use the internet is profound.
Watch This Space
Even before the pandemic, the online or e-learning market in the USA was expected to reach US billion by the year 2022, and global growth expected to reach $336.98 billion by the year 2026. But these are just forecasts – growth estimates are expected to be updated sooner rather than later owing to Covid.
Figures show before Covid around 30% of American students were enrolled in at least one course online, with a very high percentage of students around the world physically located in the country their programmes are developed in.
Learning has rapidly shifted from a desk to a desktop, with less travel time there is more available time, and trends show many of us are looking use that time to learn more about the world around us.
Replace or Revamp?
According to a report for the European University Association in 2015, the main focus of the European Higher Education Area was to use online learning to enhance the way we educated ourselves rather than replacing it. Yet a very recent survey of 100 university students showed that 52% preferred the quality of online education compared to going to a classroom.
Time will tell whether the traditional bricks and mortar educational institutions will be replaced by cyber-space, but one thing is for sure, the pandemic is quickly forcing educators to adapt or die. It is going to be interesting to see how these new-normal centres for learning look going forward – the old adage of ‘if its not broken don’t fix it’ does not apply to education in 2020.
Signing us up
Looking at online education as a revenue stream but don’t know where to start? Think of it this way – those billions of people online right now are an enormous ball of multi-coloured yarn, and you need to tease out a few strands. Understanding who is investing in online education and where that is happening can help you unravel those billions of strands so you can tug on a few of them.
Where? (and Who?)
As of 2019, the US, India, China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Côte d’Ivoire have been known to invest the most in online education. That demographic would be expected to change in 2020, but it’s a good start knowing which country has a strong history of investing in e-learning.
Findings from a survey in the US pre-Covid show that in general there are more female online higher education students than males. It was found that 65% of undergraduate and 54% of graduate online students are female – a demographic that is unlikely to change during 2020.
In 2018 around 59% of the USA’s online learning market share came from content-related online learning products. And as this learning happens it naturally uses evolving technology – with investment in this education technology at an all-time high.
Learning experience platforms and next-level learning management systems are currently in a state of revolution and are playing an increasingly crucial role in providing customised and more social online learning experiences. Artificial intelligence-powered learning mediums are expected to be extensively adopted by bigger companies as e-learning becomes more of a focus.
When it comes to online learning, tried-and-trusted video is currently the favourite method compared to say text documents. Video is engaging and fills the need for those looking for ‘faces’ as we are forced to social distance from our living rooms during 2020.
But without a doubt more advanced visual technologies will find their way into the post-Covid online education industry. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) training and up-skilling programmes have already been extensively adopted by some corporations including Walmart, UPS and Boeing.
What about mobile devices for online learning? A recent survey found that 67% of American college students used their mobile devices to complete all or some of their course-related activities, and those that found using their mobiles a challenge would use them more for e-learning if they could.
Another study found that students believe mobile devices provide them with easier access to coursework. They also make for improved communication with other students and instructors, as well as help enhance their work quality and knowledge in their field of study.
Being able to engage students and learners with interactive coursework and accessible activities and methods of communication is even more crucial during 2020 – finding and using the right medium or a combination of mediums should be a key factor for educators.
The Covid virus has undoubtedly changed the way we use the internet to learn and with the way 2020 is going we can assume that this growth will rise exponentially this year and in the upcoming academic years. Some of the top universities and learning institutions around the world have adopted strong online learning modules, and as influencers it is expected their initiatives will spread.
You might be a small company looking to offer niche online training programmes, or a mid-size university with lower enrolment numbers than your competitor in the next state with a strong e-learning presence – one thing is for sure – in 2020 online education is the Next Big Thing.
You may be interested in: “Is Online Learning the Future of Education?”