eLearning was a growing industry before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, educational technology is even more important than ever before. As the world suddenly changed, we had to find new ways to learn and teach. We had to remain social while keeping our distance. It was no easy task, but it was one that eLearning was equipped to address.
As a result, many schools, organizations, and businesses discovered whether their current tech was capable of providing the service they needed. Those who already had a solid LMS and hardware in place had a much easier time adapting compared to those who did not.
Now, there is no denying the need for eLearning either as a core part of a training program or as a plan B in case of another shutdown. A possibility that experts warn could happen.
Fortune Business Insights published an update on June 9th, 2020 that predicts the LMS market will reach $29,742 million by 2026. The market held a valuation of $7,206.7 million in 2018. That would mark an impressive 19.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Part of that growth stems from a push for enhanced learning solutions and stronger existing capacities of organizations and individuals.
Learning the Hard Way
Unfortunately, many organizations and individuals had to learn the hard way that they weren’t equipped to deal with eLearning. The technology isn’t new, but many still were afraid to implement it.
Modaris CEO Haitham Al-Haidari explained that there are two main issues when it comes to transitioning to eLearning: understanding and trusting the technology.
“Firstly, coronavirus showed us that our education systems have not caught up with technological advancements. It proved that people can learn much faster with individual learning that can be facilitated with online learning.”
Al-Haidari also expressed a common concern that people don’t trust what they don’t understand.
“They did not trust whether the person on the other side will be qualified. They also did not trust if they will get ripped off if they pay online. All are small problems, but together they become very big.”
COVID-19 changed the game by giving people no choice but to use online learning tools or nothing at all. Those who were afraid or mistrustful of ed tech realized that they had to do something, or they would fall behind. This forced change has allowed those same reluctant users to discover that eLearning can work and that a quality LMS can be trusted.
Despite the improved attitudes and building trust, Al-Haidari doesn’t think that we’re quite ready to dive in 100%.
“The world hasn’t really innovated enough to have engaging, effective, and efficient platforms for students to learn, yet.” He describes today’s platforms as “still not very intuitive.”
That may sound negative, but it hints at an even brighter future for eLearning. The COVID-19 shutdown forced businesses to find or create solutions. Those innovations could lead to sweeping advancements in 2020 and beyond. It could turn online learning into the new norm for many students and trainees.
Taking the Time for Self-Improvement
There is another, less expected way that COVID-19 helped boost interest in eLearning.
While it became a necessity for some, it was a luxury for others. People who previously didn’t have much spare time were now forced to stay home. Jobs were put on hold and social calendars were cleared for the foreseeable future. People needed something to do that wouldn’t put them at risk for coronavirus.
That extra time encouraged people to look to the internet for options. Many found online learning.
Shorfaa CEO Rola Badkook stated that “There is an increased demand for online learning, self-development, and self-exploration. During this unprecedented time people are looking to discover their interests, tap into a new hobby, engage in a self-exploratory journey, or simply develop their career through online learning. Many had these courses in their list but didn’t have the time. Now one of the most researched keywords is online learning!”
Everyone is Onboard with eLearning
The coronavirus pandemic has brought eLearning into the spotlight. Everyone seems to be on board, including schools, individuals, and even governments. This has made many optimistic about the future of the industry. It may have been forced and unexpected, but it could lead to positive changes in the technology.
It also pushes governments and developers to work together to solve problems, especially in areas that experience low connectivity rates.
Rama Kayyali, CEO at the ed tech company Little Thinking Minds sees good things coming in the eLearning space.
“As a result of the lockdown and school closures, there is a lot more reliance on distance learning digital tools and as such there will be a huge evolution in the eLearning industry with better data tracking [and] more optimized measuring tools.”
Kayyali has seen the growth first-hand. Little Thinking Minds reported increased engagement from students and teachers during the shutdown. They also noted an increase in interest from parents who had to be more involved in their child’s educational career during this time.
“The time spent, books read, and quizzes answered is growing day by day. We are offering all new schools free usage of the platform and there has been a lot of uptake as schools are searching for proven tools that improve learning outcomes.” Explained Kayyali.
Funding the Post-COVID-19 eLearning Industry
Technological advancements aren’t free. Investors have identified the trend toward remote learning, but will they act on it?
Omar Farooqui, founder of eLearning company Coded Minds, said that “In theory, it should accelerate investments from investors into the ed tech sector as it is for sure the need of the hour, especially with regulators asking all schools to switch to eLearning for the foreseeable future. But having been part of the investment industry for best part of two decades, investor psychology says they will sit on their hands and wait. Unfortunately, it is a herd mentality, a reactionary one, instead of [a] leading one, so the overall impact will be general slowdown in investment, let alone in [the ed tech] sector.”
There seems to be a consensus that the COVID-19 pandemic could be the impact-driven catalyst that the eLearning industry needed to take things to the next level. It’s now a necessity in many schools and businesses and has also emphasized a need for true blended learning.
That doesn’t mean that in-classroom education is going away. According to Farooquie, campuses will still be utilized for the life experience aspect, personal development, and soft skills enrichment. eLearning will feature more prominently, but it won’t completely overtake the need for the physical classroom in the coming years.