E-Learning Spreads Across the Globe
by Mark Sivy
E-learning continues to expand globally as a fundamental means of education and outreach. Schools, businesses and governments are adding online learning strategies such as courses, media, documentation, coaching, and collaboration to their organizational processes. It has been realized that e-learning can level the education playing field between urban and rural settings as well as between top-tier nations and developing countries. With an expected annual growth of e-learning in North America and Western Europe being less that 6%, other areas of the world such as Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America are anticipating an annual increase of over 14% (Docebo E-Learning Market Trends and Forecast, 2014-2016).
According to the GSV Advisors 2012 Education Sector Factbook, e-learning is expected to grow at an average rate of 23% during the years of 2013-2017, with the global market size being anticipated to go from $90.9 B to $255.5 B. Based upon Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, and Rapp’s annual high school e-learning course enrollments, the 2012-2013 numbers represented an over 131% increase in enrollments when compared to the 2008-2009 school year. In 2010, Mincberg projected that it is possible by 2020 for 50% of all high school classes to be delivered online. Additionally given current trends, it can be estimated that by 2019, half of all college classes will be e-Learning based.
By using e-learning, corporations are realizing that they can save over 50% on the cost of creating and delivering a traditional course, not to mention that they can make it readily available to a large number of employees when and where they need it. This global trend has been found to be the case with both small and large companies, and is due to the acceptance of e-learning as an efficient and cost effective means to quickly educate a geographically distributed workforce. WorldWideLearn points out several other factors that are leading the continuing growth of corporate e-learning, with some of the most notable being the development and delivery of consistent high quality content, the rapid development of employee skills, and modular learning.
Why is e-learning so very alive and doing well? Many factors have been found that are contributing to its popularity and reach. Some of these are:
- Mobility created by the expansion of wireless access and the growth in mobile device (e.g., tablets and smartphones) sales.
- Personalized learning and adaptive learning that address the diversity of learner backgrounds and needs.
- Gamification, which motivates learners and improves the level of interaction with the content.
- Pervasive learning occurring through a variety of informal, social, and formal modalities, which better match learner needs and interests.
- Popularity of cloud-based technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS)
There may be some misconceptions or opinions out there due to “bad” experiences that may lead some people to believe that e-learning is on the decline or is ineffective. Some common reasons for this are:
- E-learning adoption being driven by the desire to have a technology rather than by having actual learning needs that are addressed with technology after thorough analysis and planning. A classic case is the rush by many schools to implement one-on-one (1:1) laptop or tablet initiatives before the learning needs, benefits, and support requirements have been identified, explored, and vetted.
- Failure to create an ongoing budget for scalability, maintenance, and upgrading of both software and hardware. Often, money is only allotted for the initial costs and setup or too little recurring funding is set aside.
- Inadequate stakeholder notification or buy-in.
- Lack of instructional design that is appropriate to the e-learning method that is being used. An example of this is uploading PowerPoints and other content from a traditional course into on that is online.
- Absence of or insufficient training, professional development, and user support.
In most of these cases where there negative thoughts have resulted about e-learning, these could have been avoided by clearly identifying learning needs, thoroughly researching project requirements and options, involving stakeholders in the process, applying strategic vision and planning, and ensuring sufficient funds.
Reflection Point 1 – “E-Learning doesn’t just happen! It requires careful planning and implementation.” – Anonymous
Reflection Point 2 – “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” – Heidi-Hayes Jacobs
Mincberg, C. (2010). Is online learning a solution in search of a problem? Retrieved from the Litmos website: http://www.litmos.com/mobile-learning/what-will-disrupt-literacy-learninginstruction-as-we-know-it/.
Watson, J., Murin, A., Vashaw, L., Gemin, B., & Rapp, C. (2013). Keeping pace with K-12 online & blended learning: An annual review of policy and practice. Retrieved from Evergreen Education Group’s Keeping Pace website: http://kpk12.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/EEG_KP2013-lr.pdf.