The path to our future seems to be paved by digitalization and eLearning is at the forefront. With more schools and companies turning towards eLearning programs, the numerous benefits are hard to ignore.
The eLearning industry has grown by a whopping 900% since the turn of the century and only continues to become more important whether that is to schools, colleges, or companies.
For every dollar spent on eLearning, companies make back $30 through increased productivity.
Image via educationdata.org
If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it is that eLearning programs are going to be imperative to the future of learning whether that is for employees from big companies or third graders just making their way through a year of schooling.
Time constraints, a lack of resources, distance, and getting the job done better are all problems that have been faced by companies for decades and eLearning may be the first step to solving them.
As more people turn towards eLearning platforms to learn new skills, get more affordable degrees, or connect to professors that they can only have access to through the internet, it is becoming evident that eLearning is our future.
What Exactly is eLearning?
To answer the question ‘what is eLearning’, we need to take a step back and compare it to traditional learning which is ordinarily confined to a classroom. eLearning, on the other hand, utilizes electronic technologies to teach students. This means that the content to be learned is 100% online through a medium like text, audio, or video.
The content is normally created by a university, company, or institute but there are also plenty of individuals that use eLearning platforms to host courses of their own which is a great way to make extra money.
A good example of eLearning would be the company Duolingo that teaches people new languages through their website or app. Duolingo helps students learn a new language through online video lessons, text-based exams, podcasts, games, and more.
In short, eLearning is the movement of education from the classroom to behind your screen. It helps make education affordable and accessible.
What are the different types of eLearning?
eLearning uses what is called an LMS (Learning Management System) to deliver content or training to your target audience. The primary difference between the different types of eLearning is the audience you are trying to reach and what you are trying to educate them on.
Here are four of the main types of eLearning to give you a better idea-
There are a lot of eLearning programs out there whose targeted audience is not a company or school but an individual. These courses will normally teach their students new skills or help them learn more about a topic they are already interested in
Language courses, productivity courses, and management courses are all good examples. ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Seattle Pacific University would be considered a self-improvement course.
#2 Employee Training
Employee training is what most companies use eLearning for since it simplifies the training and makes it more cost-effective. Onboarding new employees or teaching old employees new skills would be considered part of employee training.
Customer training is normally used to educate customers or users on information about the product or service you are providing.
This is especially useful for tech companies or software providers who want to streamline the process of educating new users on how to use the service, software, or product they bought.
Customers also tend to be happier with a product and use it for longer when customer training is provided.
This is also really helpful to the company itself since customers will be less likely to call or email support if they are able to solve most of their queries themselves. In the long run, customer training can help save money and use fewer resources.
A lot of jobs entail certain rules and regulations that need to be followed at all times. Compliance training educates new employees on the laws that may be applicable to their new position.
This training is normally mandatory for most organizations since it takes into account any health and safety measures that need to be followed.
eLearning is a really helpful tool for organizations that need to complete compliance training courses since the LMS used to deliver the content can easily be updated whenever there are changes that need to be made. It is also easier to record the completion of the course if it is done using eLearning software.
A look into the future: Will eLearning change our future?
Photo by Andy Falconer on Unsplash
As eLearning platforms get more popular, it is important to take a step back and evaluate how they will affect the way we educate, communicate, and learn.
The problem with education now is that the knowledge received differs based on where you are, who is teaching you, and how your results are measured.
The great part about eLearning is that it makes the same course or lesson available to pretty much anybody who has an internet connection. Education not only becomes more streamlined and accessible but it also becomes fairer.
At the moment, the best universities the world has to offer are normally in the Northern America and Europe regions. eLearning opens the doors to opportunity for people that may not have been able to dream of it up until now.
This will invariably affect our labor market. Companies like Apple and Microsoft could hire the best developer or graphic designer the world has to offer as more people begin to access eLearning platforms.
There will be more people entering the workforce and certain jobs that can be done remotely will invariably get more competitive.
While eLearning tends to seem like the answer to all of our problems with no downsides to worry about, there is the worry that ‘too much of a good thing’ may not necessarily end well.
As eLearning becomes the norm, conventional learning and traditional classrooms will fade into the background. Some of the possible negatives could be-
- Lack of motivation– A student is normally motivated into completing a task or attending a lecture due to the teacher constantly being there to lay down a firm hand when necessary. If everything is online, not every student is going to be able to take on the responsibility of holding themselves accountable.
- No communication skill development
- Limited student feedback
- Social Isolation
There is also the possibility that we could become even more dependent on Artificial Intelligence. Augmented and virtual reality are trends that are predicted to lead eLearning forward through the next couple of years.
Siri and Cortana could become your new teachers with eLearning platforms already testing out the use of AI. This can be used to personalize lessons or guide a student through the course.
The advantages of eLearning are obvious with companies reporting higher productivity, more employee engagement, and more affordable learning options but at the same time, we also need to evaluate the potential risks.
Comparing the pros and cons will be the key to us striking the right balance.
How can you use eLearning to stay relevant
eLearning is more than just accessible education. It also allows you to go a step further and learn a new skill that may be relevant to your job or business.
For employees, it offers the opportunity to stand out by acquiring the right skills. Some of the most sought after skills at the moment include-
- Cloud Computing
- UX Design
- Artificial Intelligence
Taking a course that teaches you one of these skills may be what makes you qualified for a promotion or a job you have your eye on.
The same logic can apply for businesses that want to take things up a notch. For example, a personal trainer could create an eLearning app that walks his students through various exercises.
A great example of this would be the Nike app that offers various tutorials to people who are on the move.
Even a food website could create an app that includes some of their most popular recipes. The possibilities are endless.
It really comes down to whether you are happy with where your business is or whether you want to explore the possibility of growing even further. eLearning is giving businesses around the world that chance.
What are the best eLearning platforms?
If starting a course of your own is something you have always considered doing, knowing the best platform to get started with should be your first step. Here are five of the most popular eLearning platforms-
SkillShare hosts your course for you on their platform which means you get access to their audience and website traffic.
This is a good way to get your foot through the door if you are an absolute beginner and this is your first course.
The downside to this is that SkillShare takes a pretty huge cut of your profits in exchange.
Much like SkillShare, Udemy also has a huge audience that you gain access to by adding your course to their platform.
Some of the key features include- the insights tool that allows you to see what your earnings are and how many people have taken your course, great software to create your course with, and a supportive community to depend on if you have any questions.
Teachable is a monthly subscription service for people who want to take courses on a site of their own without sharing the profit. For a monthly fee, Teachable will give you everything you need to do that.
This includes domain support, unlimited students, landing pages, integrated email marketing, etc. Prices start at $39 per month and go up to $299.
#4 LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning allows instructors to earn a passive income and reach new students by creating a course on their platform.
If you would like to get approved as an instructor, you can fill out the application form on their website.
Some of the key features of this platform include a wide audience, a great reputation, and easy to use software that will help you create your course.
Coursera includes courses from places like Duke University and Stanford. Coursera only partners with universities or institutions so you cannot apply to add a course to their platform by yourself.
You would have to be part of a recognized university or company to be considered.
eLearning may mean something different to you depending on where you are in life. It could be a way to grow your business further, acquire a new skill, or earn a passive income on the side.
No matter which one applies to you, it is important that you use the growth of these platforms to your advantage.
Are you looking forward to the new era of eLearning?