They say learning is continuous but in the real sense, learning has to be consistent. That’s how we keep up with the increasing demands from employers and society in general. From a time, where there was a particular timing associated with learning, we have come to a phase in education, where we have outgrown the concept of time in learning. Today, you can come back home and learn what you’ve missed understanding in your class or dedicate time to learning something totally unrelated to your academics for your personal interests.
Though a cliché, technology has indeed paved the way for convenient learning, where we are no longer required to be confined to physical spaces or timelines to learn new things and take steps towards being educated. The gap has been bridged to a great extent by technology. In fact, it has tremendously shaped the e-learning industry, where new avenues to learn, apply and grow have popped up across the globe.
If you didn’t know, the global worth of the e-learning industry is anticipated tohit $325bn by the year 2025. Over 77% of the institutions in the US had deployed e-learning practices in the year 2017 and over 98% plan to incorporate by 2020. By making learning fun and the time spent on learning new concepts meaningful, e-learning has increased the retention rates of students and aspirants by 60%.
Besides, the E-learning industry is one of the ripest markets today. There has been a 900% growth in the onset of e-learning companies from 2001 to 2017. Today, some of the most crucial courses that define employability for today and tomorrow are offered by online institutions while universities and offline schools are either trying to partner with course providers or figuring out ways to incorporate them into their curriculum.
Concepts like artificial intelligence, machine learning, programming, business intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain and more are hot courses today and these are all offsprings of the e-learning industry. But how did the industry become what it is today? What were some of the most significant milestones in its timeline? Let’s find out.
No transformation has ever happened overnight. If we could use our smartphones to watch YouTube videos, it’s because of the countless years spent on improving everything that’s associated with this delivery. The progress in e-learning has also been because of several baby-step approaches. A trivia about this industry, the word e-learning was first used in 1999 at a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seminar. Ever since the coining of this term, several changes have come and gone to make e-learning what it is today.
One of the earliest concepts of e-learning was distance education, where you could learn subjects without actually visiting a college or school. All the study materials you would need would be sent to you via mail to your residence and you were needed to pay for the education in the same way. When it came to exams, you had to pay the fees and get your passes or hall tickets for the exams and head to the nearest official examination center to give your exam.
The rise of personal computers digitized the entire process of distance education. While you were sent physical copies of books via mail before PCs, you were offered compact discs and pdfs as study materials with the evolution of computers. Education became a lot more visual and interesting in the digitization process. This was also the time powerpoint presentations were made to make classes more interactive and engaging. Remember?
The time between 2006 and 2010 was the era of diversification and innovation in e-learning. Moving away from the use of CDs and texts of course materials, this timeline saw the rise of several e-learning tools, which went on to revolutionize learning forever. With the internet gaining popularity fast and computers becoming increasingly accessible at that time, anyone with coding knowledge was able to make learning tools. There were also the introductions of other forms of learning through podcasts, videos and dedicated learning software to make the entire process meaningful.
Some of the notable innovations in this era included:
The dawn of the decade brought in further changes and innovations to the e-learning industry. The internet became faster and computers became cheaper. Geographical and language challenges were no longer hampering learning but were overcome seamlessly with tech. From recorded online videos, e-learning implemented live seminars, workshops or classes for students to learn from wherever they are. Dedicated and optimized software applications also allowed students to get recordings of their live classrooms to help them catch up with courses when they missed. Live interaction with tutors, offline support, forums and communities all developed simultaneously to foster a healthy environment for learning. Today, there are apps that give you access to countless hours of content on any topic of your choice. From learning reiki to swimming online, you could find a course of your choice.
The e-learning industry could not have become so disruptive if it weren’t for the advancing technology. Ever since the first generation of computers and the concept of connected computers hit the market, e-learning has been consistently adapting to newer trends to further diminish the challenges in learning. Some of the most crucial advantages of technology in e-learning has been on
From having to travel miles to reach the nearest university to being able to afford courses, e-learning has allowed both institutions and aspirants to save money on learning expenses.
Like we shared earlier, languages and geographical limits were no longer barriers in education. Staying in a suburb in India, you could study from an institution in London your preferred course on machine learning today and get to interact directly with the professors there.
Retention was a major problem with distance education, as you couldn’t track people who wouldn’t show up or complete the course. But today, data analytics allows course providers to check if students are progressing in their learning and even base their certifications on the number of hours clocked apart from other factors.
The simultaneous growth of web development has further enhanced the delivery of e-learning modules and courses to students.
A wide range of tech stacks like Angularjs, Nodejs, and Reactjs have a variety of use-cases that can be incorporated to build such e-learning web applications. For businesses, this is the ideal time to venture into the e-learning scene as developing a web-based e-learning application is easier like never before.
While helping you cut down on development costs, web apps allow you to offer your students the experience of native apps on their laptops or computers.
These apps have all the functionalities of a mobile app and act as a better way to foster education and learning when compared to their mobile counterparts.
Whether it be about building a dashboard, course, training management system, or learning management system, an e-Learning web application will have following core features:
Authentication and user profile.
What if you could utilize the philosophy of Netflix and apply that to learning? Well, personalized learning and recommendation engines are designed to do just that. While generic learning modules are ideal for courses like personal development, business etiquette, languages and more, there has to be a more substantial teaching methodology in place if you really want to specialize in a specific field. For niche industries and job profiles, personalization of learning is key.
This is where disruptive technologies of today like Big Data, analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and more come into action. To personalize learning, you need data. This data is both the learning pattern of one learner and thousands of other learners. As the machine learning algorithm learns about the learning patterns, behaviors and preferences from one and many users, it consistently gets a better idea about what students need to learn to make their session more impactful.
This is when the tasks associated with recommendation engines get triggered. These algorithms can gauge a student’s strengths and weaknesses in his or her course and recommend a learning path accordingly. If a student is weak on probability but good at trigonometry, the student will be shown more videos and exercises on probability. This way, tutors can also personally assess the skills of individual students and gradually move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. This will also allow students to learn at their own pace without being pressured by their peers.
Technologies like AR and VR have been tremendously underutilized. It is only now that there seems to be a renaissance of sorts happening in this field. In the coming years, these technologies are aiming to bridge the gap between digital and reality by allowing students to experience immersive learning. With apps and wearables, students can deep-dive into the structure of an atom and understand in-depth about it, visit an automobile factory to witness how various parts are manufactured and the science behind them, understand geography and history better and more. It will be interesting to see how e-learning leverages the potential of these technologies to deliver futuristic education.
With e-learning, robotics is no longer confined to premier institutions. The world is increasingly waking up to the fact that coding and robotics are inevitable skills needed for the future. That’s why kids as young as 10-year-olds get hands-on training on coding and robotics. Today, there are educational robots that allow students to understand coding concepts and solve real-world issues in their lives with technology. While making learning fun, this has allowed the learning of complex concepts like functions and algorithms fun for aspirants.
While we are at one of the most exciting phases of human evolution, it is still interesting to see what tech brings to e-learning this decade. With some of the pointers we’ve mentioned already becoming mainstream, we should wait and witness the impact and quality of education they create. These approaches are also geared towards making students more employable and self-sustainable. What do you think?