While many of us have only been acquainted with it recently, eLearning has actually been helping people study remotely for over 20 years. While in the past, it was relegated mostly to students pursuing higher education, nowadays, it’s available for university students, K-12 students, corporate entities wishing to train employees, or professionals in search of career development.
The push it needed to break into the mainstream came with the pandemic. A blessing and a curse, the global lockdown meant that online learning was the only option, and many have adopted it out of necessity. That was great for normalizing it as an option, but it also meant that it was forced upon students, teachers, and parents who were unprepared and distrustful.
However, because it became so popular, it was a good time for it to expand, develop, and thrive. Whereas before, online courses were taken only by those who were very motivated to learn, the lockdown awoke that interest in many more people. Whether they were paying for a Masterclass on acting delivered by Natalie Portman, a class on knitting on Skillshare, or a college course on Futurelearn, people of all ages turned to eLearning, not just children whose schooling was interrupted or otherwise impacted.
Nowadays, eLearning is improving more and more, new tech and approaches are being introduced, and it’s becoming accepted as a viable and often preferable alternative to more traditional means of education at every level.
General eLearning Statistics
When the internet went mainstream, it was only a matter of time before we started using it for formal educational purposes and not just self-taught Wikipedia spirals. And thus, the online learning industry was born.
While it continued to grow reliably as remote options became more mainstream, it very much remained a niche option primarily reserved for higher education and occasionally corporate training.
In time, however, we’ve learned to appreciate and take advantage of the benefits of remote learning, with students coming to eLearning from K-12, undergraduate and graduate programs, or from professional industries. The pandemic was the final push it needed, and now everybody is enjoying eLearning, from the 3rd grader learning a foreign language online to the teen doing their online homework to the middle-aged mom who is learning how to knit on a dedicated eLearning platform.
History and Growth of eLearning
The eLearning industry is much older than most people think, and it’s been enjoying steady success ever since it came on the market. While its growth was slow for 20 years, it has recently skyrocketed into the mainstream due to the pandemic. We can only expect it to get bigger and bigger.
- Many believe that eLearning only started becoming popular after the pandemic, but they would be mistaken - in 2018, 6,932,074 students enrolled in their institutions’ eLearning programs in America alone.
- The eLearning market is 22 years old and has been growing steadily ever since its inception.
- It is projected that by 2024, the eLearning market in the United States has the potential to grow to $72.41 billion. That’s more than 6 times the growth initially anticipated, which sat at only $12 billion, which proves the immense demand and potential for eLearning.
- Corporate adoption of eLearning has also grown exponentially, with only 4% of corporations making use of online learning in 1995. 27 years later, a whopping 90% of them are taking advantage of remote learning as a means of training and career development.
Demographics of eLearning Students
The advantages of remote learning make it a very obvious option for certain categories of students, like students enrolled in higher education, but they are not the only ones pursuing online education. Everyone, from the youngest student to those differently abled or who live remotely, benefits from this type of schooling.
- While eLearning students come from all walks of life, most remote students are actually undergraduates. That makes sense, as they tend to be the most favored by the flexible nature of online learning.
- Besides undergraduates, K-12 students are also catching up with eLearning; 57% of them were already using online learning tools in 2019, and that number has skyrocketed after the pandemic. That number grows to 96% if we talk about students in grades 3 to 5.
- But it’s not just regular students taking remote classes - there are several categories of students for whom online learning is essential. The rest of the remote learning student body is comprised of students with disabilities (61%), international students not currently residing in the U.S. (25%), transfer students (79%), and even students who are underprepared academically (29%).
eLearning can make learning more democratic in many ways, as it removes a lot of barriers to entry from education. Whether it’s lack of accessibility, funds, or time, remote learning is enticing for a lot of different categories of students.
Impact of Covid on eLearning
As expected, eLearning saw a huge spike in popularity during covid because so many areas were under lockdown and because of safety concerns. Especially for college-aged students, this has been a valuable alternative to traditional in-person studies, which were largely interrupted because of the health crisis all over the world.
- 84% of undergraduates experienced eLearning during the first phase of the pandemic, whether partially or completely.
- In fact, during the pandemic, 98% of all exams in the world were held online, with many remaining online even after in-person learning resumed.
- Almost half (43%) of institutions for higher education and not only have started offering eLearning courses and modules as an avenue for more efficient learning.
- The eLearning market in the United States is expected to grow by over $70 billion in the 2020-2024 period alone - eLearning was thriving and gaining traction even before the pandemic, but covid really put it at the forefront of people’s minds as a great option. Consequently, the industry exploded, as both private companies and existing institutions have put forth eLearning courses.
- 59% of people credit the pandemic for the incentive to start an eLearning course in absence of other educational methods or activities outside the home.
Far from being a rare option, eLearning has become more and more mainstream, mainly because of the push of the pandemic. With everyone being stuck at home, alternative remote solutions were necessary, and eLearning proved to be the right choice for many students and institutions.
How Effective is eLearning
When you’re used to traditional classroom learning, eLearning can appear as an untrustworthy method to replace it. And many continue to undermine it, convinced that it cannot compare to in-person learning. That was a big point of contention during the pandemic.
However, equally passionate are its defenders, who appreciate the many benefits it brings. The flexibility, the time and resources saved, and the greater accessibility. But is that enough to outweigh negatives like the challenge of ensuring that every student has internet access, the issues of online safety, or the greater challenge of disciplining remote students?
Even eLearning statistics seem to contradict each other, with some claiming that students are thriving with eLearning, and others stating that their education and well-being are suffering. So, how effective is eLearning, really?
Benefits of eLearning
The reason why eLearning has become such a huge market that’s in constant growth is that it brings a lot of advantages for both students and educators. Not only is online education accessible to more categories of students than traditional classroom learning, but the time and energy saved are tremendous when people are able to do their work from home. That makes it more efficient and even more environmentally friendly because of the reduced resource consumption.
Time and Energy Saver
Research shows that eLearning helps with faster observation, digestion of information, and learning, compared to in-person teaching. In fact, it’s 60% faster and, thus, more efficient.
In addition, the tailored learning available via eLearning means every student can learn at their own pace and make their own schedule. 36% of students appreciate the adaptability of the tutoring style.
Like working from home, eLearning benefits the user tremendously in terms of time saved as well as energy saved. With no commute to speak of, that’s hours saved not just on traveling to a different location but also on getting ready, packing bags, preparing a packed lunch, etc.
Accessible and Efficient
One of the major advantages of eLearning is its global nature. One can learn no matter where they are, as long as they have internet access. In fact, 70% of eLearning activity occurs in the United States and Europe, with classes being held worldwide.
Students admit they spend half the time they would normally spend on learning the same information in a classroom setting. That is partially due to the fact that the students are allowed to manage their own time and lessons, making the entire process more efficient.
As we’ve seen with the success of widespread remote work, many people enjoy the comfort and convenience of working and learning in a familiar environment. That way, they can do the work at the times when they are most productive and get other housework done.
Moreover, this is a wonderful option for individuals who have disabilities or are otherwise unable to easily leave their homes in order to join a traditional classroom course. This opens up options for categories of students who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to take on further studies.
Not least of all, the environmental impact of learning from home can be significant. A survey in the United States suggests that between 50% and 98% of college students have cars and/or drive to school, depending on the institution. Studying from home instead of commuting to school means cutting down on thousands of cars on the road and their associated carbon footprint.
But not only that, not holding classes in a physical classroom also reduces the amount of energy that is consumed. According to the Business Energy Advisor, the average U.S. college has a consumption of 18.9 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 17 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot (ft2) of floor space every year. All that energy is saved with eLearning.
Paper waste is another relevant issue that eLearning addresses directly. Without paper handouts, essays, homework, and worksheets, as many as 360,000 sheets of paper can be saved every year. And that’s just in one school. Nationwide, it would be billions.
Saves Money and Resources
The financial benefits are nothing to scoff at, either. Resources for teaching are notoriously expensive, with books often costing in the hundreds. eLearning can cut those costs to almost nothing, which benefits students, teachers, and schools alike. In addition, teachers are saving money on commuting and resources, and schools are saving money on teacher salaries and overtime.
Challenges of eLearning
For all its benefits, like most things, eLearning is unfortunately not an even playing field. While it’s an excellent option for some, some individuals will experience different challenges with eLearning, whether it’s because of the lack of internet access or the inherently distracting nature of trying to work at home.
Availability of Internet Access
As we were able to see during the pandemic, one of the major challenges of eLearning is the lack of internet access for some students, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds or who live in remote areas. Internet access can be prohibitively expensive or, at times, not present at all in the area the student lives in, particularly in rural areas, making eLearning all but impossible.
Security and Privacy of eLearning
Living in an increasingly technology-dependent and chronically online world comes with its own drawbacks, including issues of security. Anything we do on the internet is under a certain amount of risk. Whether that’s doxxing, malware, or the theft of personal information, studying online requires diligent protection. Strong passwords, secure internet connections, and trustworthy software and apps are all necessary. But even with all of these, one may still fall victim to cybercriminals.
Discipline of Students
Then there’s the challenge of self-motivation. While some people work great at home and can self-motivate, whether it’s work or learning, for other people, it’s much more difficult. A traditional classroom has the advantage of having been created with this specific purpose. Everyone is there to learn and there are no distractions. Learning from home, one is prone to distractions, forgetfulness, procrastination, and other bad habits that come between the student and the work that needs to be done. In short, eLearning can mean less effective learning, depending on the person.
Teachers' Ability to Teach Online
Just like students aren’t born self-starters, neither are teachers natural online teachers. Teaching online presents different challenges to teaching in person, and it may even be more difficult for an experienced teacher to adapt to classes online. If the teacher is not adequately prepared or skilled for this unique type of learning, then the teaching process is less effective, and the students get less value from it. It can hinder or even prevent learning
K-12 eLearning Statistics
When we talk about eLearning, we’re mostly thinking of the students - particularly K-12 -, but while they are, indeed, the most impacted, they are not the only ones. The parents of students are among the most concerned about the effect remote learning is having on their kids, and of course, educators are also having to adjust to this novelty.
Opinions are divided among all groups, with certain commonalities emerging - across all groups, people are happy to embrace eLearning, despite difficulties, but there are concerns about the drawbacks, particularly when it comes to the social aspects.
eLearning vs Classroom
Ever since online learning has become a mainstream option and some of the teachers, students, and parents have been brought along kicking and screaming, there has been one main ongoing conversation: which is better, eLearning or classroom learning?
The answer, of course, is that they both have advantages and disadvantages, and each of the people involved has an opinion and a preference. While a classroom setting does more for a child’s social skills, it also increases distractions. eLearning can be lonely, but it also teaches valuable skills. Which one is better depends entirely on one’s needs and preferences.
- One of the big differences between eLearning and classroom learning is the amount of conflict between teachers and students and between the students themselves. In classroom learning, more conflict occurs naturally because of the group setting and face-to-face interaction. With eLearning, however, every participant is in isolation, and there is less chance - and less cause - for conflict.
- For all the criticism over the lack of social connection within online teaching, one study from Portugal found that neither classroom teaching nor eLearning excels at creating a close connection or bond more than the other.
- One study found that while online learning negatively impacts social relationships with friends and teachers, it also helps to strengthen and improve the relationship between student and parent.
With attitudes, opinions, and experiences varying so much, it’s difficult to put your finger on clear, flagrant differences between remote learning and in-person learning. It’s been found that the experience is largely impacted by access to the internet and tech and the way each school handled the transition to online learning. That vastly colors one’s positive or negative impression.
Kids’ attitudes to eLearning
eLearning took a lot of kids by surprise, as it was introduced suddenly because of the pandemic. As a result, it was mandatory, and there was little time to prepare on either the part of the students or the teachers. While mixed, kids’ attitudes and opinions toward eLearning tend to be positive. The negatives stem almost entirely from a lack of socialization and difficulty managing their time and self-disciplining. However, the advantages mostly make up for it, with academic results improving as a direct result of online classes, more free time, and plentiful skills being acquired in the process.
- A glaring issue with eLearning is income inequity and how that impacts access to online learning. 1 in 5 teenage students cannot always do their homework because they don’t have access to high-speed broadband. This is an issue, particularly with rural students and students of color.
- On the other hand, a whopping 96% of students, most of them K-12 students, claim to enjoy online learning tools because they enable them to be independent and learn without the educator’s help.
- Students who experienced eLearning even outperformed students who learned in a traditional setting when it comes to areas of study such as English as a second language (ESL).
- Despite issues, the vast majority of students are pleased with the outcome of eLearning, and 95% of them would recommend it to others.
Parents’ attitudes to eLearning
Seeing as eLearning was largely introduced as a pandemic measure to mitigate the interruptions in the regular school schedule, parents are understandably apprehensive about eLearning. Most of them are open to the idea and even happy for their kids to continue with it, but there are concerns over whether this type of education meets all the requirements of a traditional curriculum and school environment and whether it can help kids thrive in the same way both academically and socially.
- Studies show that the parents of students who attend in-person classes are less likely to be concerned and more likely to be satisfied with their education. Parents of children attending some online classes are significantly more likely to be concerned about falling behind.
- 54% of parents with kids who are attending school fully in person say they are satisfied with their kids’ schooling, while the same attitude is displayed by only 30% of parents whose kids are studying exclusively online and 27% of the parents whose kids are enrolled in both online and in-person classes.
- On the other hand, even with the difference in attitude between in-person and online classes, 55% of parents are still viewing eLearning more favorably now than before the pandemic.
- Among the concerns parents are bringing up, most of them (52%) are worried about their children missing out on social interactions, 35% have regrets about missed school work and potentially catching up, while 25% of parents cited the fear of their children falling behind.
Educators’ attitudes towards eLearning
Teachers know better than anyone how distracted students can be, which is why some of them are understandably apprehensive about eLearning. However, after experiencing it for over 2 years, most educators are on the same side - they support online education because it comes with a set of advantages that is very hard to ignore and that makes life easier for both students and teachers.
- K-12 teachers largely support online learning, with 25% noting the usefulness of eLearning tools and how they actively contribute to noticeably improved student outcomes. Apps are some of the most commonly used tools (65%) and online educational videos.
- Principals are also overwhelmingly in favor, with 71% of them appreciating eLearning tools, as they help students acquire problem-solving skills they will find applicable in the real world and not just in an academic setting.
- 90% of K-12 public school teachers agree that online learning tools are ideal for doing research and otherwise searching for information.
- Over ⅓ of teachers think that online learning supports a more personalized approach to teaching that can be suited to each student individually.
Higher eLearning Statistics
eLearning has become somewhat of a contentious topic among college students, with students and parents questioning whether online learning is worth it. On one hand, flexibility is incontestable, and it can make it much easier and more convenient for working students to manage their time. Plus, tuition fees are lower, reflecting the lack of presence on campus.
On the other hand, time and workload management, as well as self-discipline, can be very difficult for students and lead to increased drop-out rates. Whether or not online higher learning is worth it is up to each individual to decide.
Admission and Enrollment
As expected, enrollment is on the rise for online education avenues. The pandemic was a significant push in this direction, leading to the doubling and even tripling of the number of enrollments among college students.
- While eLearning as a whole is on the rise, when it comes to undergraduate enrollment, 2020 seems to have been a peak of sorts, with 4.7% fewer students enrolling for the spring semester in 2021 than in 2020.
- When it comes to graduate enrollment, however, the spring semester of 2021 saw a boost of 4.3% compared to 2020. The pandemic was a major motivator, as compared to online learning enrollment levels before the pandemic, graduate enrollment was three times higher.
- Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that there is still a lot unknown about online learning, and students are not incentivized enough to try it. 21% of students enrolled in traditional in-person education have only ever taken one online class, while 43% have never experienced it.
While eLearning enrollment is certainly on the rise tremendously compared to before the pandemic, it’s dropping off compared to 2020. The problem may be the lack of incentives to continue to switch to online learning, considering a large percentage of students have never even taken an online course.
Growing popularity for eLearning means a growing online student body. But it may not look like what we imagined. Student ages for online education are trending higher than average compared to traditional education, which is why it attracts more professionals and students interested in post-graduate programs and further development. This is thought to be due to the flexible nature of online education, which allows one to work at the same time or maintain family obligations while still attending classes.
- While primary school children were the most affected by the pandemic and many had to switch to online learning, most online students are actually pursuing higher education, particularly post-graduates.
- In fact, the average age of an online student is 32 years old, which indicates a much wider range of ages and backgrounds for students enrolled in remote education. It’s not just traditionally college-aged students but also parents, educators, and many professionals looking for career development and advancement.
- The age statistics are noted by school administrators, who report that the increased popularity of eLearning means it’s attracting both students older than average and many younger, leading to a wider variety of class sizes and demographics.
Retention and Graduation
It’s no secret that retention is a problem with online education. Unfortunately, students tend to drop out of online courses at a higher rate than their in-person counterparts. The reasons for that phenomenon vary - part of it is related to the inherent difficulty of self-motivating and self-disciplining, while other reasons stem from the discomfort some may feel with the method of teaching and the isolation characteristic of remote work and study.
- One study in Australia revealed that only 44% of remote students complete their studies; the graduation rate for students on campus is 77%.
- Online courses have more trouble retaining students than in-person courses, with the former having up to a 20% higher failed retention rate.
- Liberty University has the highest online retention rate for part-time students, sitting at a 49% graduation rate.
Tuition is where the topic of online learning gets sticky, with a significant amount of people feeling that it’s not worth paying tuition for an alternative style of education, especially if the students struggle to keep the same performance they had in the classroom. However, amounts vary depending on the institution and the type of online instruction they offer.
- 63% of universities with lower prices for online classes can do so because the students are not using campus facilities and activities, and the reduced need for security and maintenance leads to savings that can be passed on to the students.
- Private institutions have admitted that it is worth lowering tuition fees for online courses because it leads to growing enrollment, thus fulfilling revenue goals. Public institutions were more reserved on the topic.
- Remaining competitive on the market is one of the major drives for lowered tuition for online instruction, with 73% of colleges citing that as their reason.
- Students are more likely to demand the lowering of the cost of tuition for online classes because they feel that the quality of the instruction is not the same. eLearning statistics that indicate lowered performance in an online setting tend to agree.
Why College Students Choose eLearning
Since the pandemic, more college students are choosing to complete their education online rather than in a traditional, in-person setting. The reasons vary, from efficiency to better module formatting and even financial motivations.
- Efficiency seems to be one of the major benefits that attract college students to online learning over traditional in-class studies. 40% of students say that they understand better because the modules are modified to enhance understanding.
- Speaking of efficiency, it appears that there is a huge discrepancy between the amount of material one retains in a traditional environment vs. online - between 25% and 60% of students actually retain more with eLearning compared to in-class.
- Not to be ignored are the financial incentives for eLearning - over 50% of the students questioned in a survey admitted that they chose eLearning because it’s cheaper than a traditional college education.
- Perhaps surprisingly, the reputation and overall quality of the institution chosen still matter, and between 20% and 28% of students still rely on these as a yardstick against which to measure the schools they choose, even if the education is online.
- In a day and age where traditional college is more and more expensive, and most everyone is saddled with thousands of dollars of debt after dedicating 4 years of their life to college, today’s students are looking for alternatives that make sense.
Role of eLearning in the Corporate World
Training and further education, and professional development have always been essential in a corporate world that puts so much value on improvement and advancement, but now the same results are possible with much lower spending.
Companies are happy to use eLearning in order to train their employees on new techniques and approaches or teach them to use new tools and software. 62% of companies make use of eLearning courses and platforms to close gaps in knowledge in their employees, while 82% rely on eLearning for their compliance training.
How Employees Benefit from eLearning
While not something most of us think about when choosing a job, there is definitely a cost to employment, training, and further education or specialization. And a lot of those costs go away when those courses are online instead of in-person.
Transportation costs are probably the biggest expense an employee may have to take on when opting to further their education in the interest of work. Driving to and from a different location, potentially even in a different part of the country, is a big financial commitment that disappears with online learning.
In fact, the only cost employees incur from it is the cost of the energy and internet they use while attending courses, which is negligible, most of the time, and occasionally even covered by the employer if the job is already remote. However, according to one study, 79% of remote employees pay for their own internet, so if that’s a cost you incur, either way, studying from home comes at no additional cost.
Reduces Learning Time
Something you may not have considered before is the reduction in actual learning time. Learning online can actually save employees a lot of time, and time is money. Studies show that eLearning cuts learning time by 60%, thanks to the time savings on commuting, meal breaks, intros, and outros, etc. It’s also made faster and more efficient by virtue of the fact that the lesson is no longer taught to an entire group, so it does not need to serve everyone’s needs at once.
Engagement and Retention
it’s in every company’s best interest for their employees to be engaged with the materials and deliver work that is as productive as possible. With eLearning focusing on alternative teaching and learning methods, like audio, video, graphics, etc., rather than traditional lessons, there’s a more effective way to train and educate. It’s easier for employees to focus and pay attention in interactive lessons that actively engage the learner rather than passive, traditional lessons. People will be more motivated to remain engaged if you make it interesting and fun.
Accessibility and Access to worldwide employees/global collaboration
Having all the resources and classes online also means it’s accessible to anyone. That’s a very valuable incentive for employees who may be disabled or who otherwise have a difficult time traveling to a training location. It also makes it incredibly easy and convenient to collaborate and connect with co-workers and collaborators across the world. Especially with how many companies, big and small, are now global and have employees scattered all over, this is an opportunity for a group training event that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, especially not without tremendous spending.
The rigid class schedule of traditional learning institutions can lead to an ineffective or unequal learning experience. Online learning means that all students can access the information at any time. Whether they need to take the class at 2 am or they want to revise the lesson a few times, the materials are always available, which leads to increased flexibility. That benefits both students who go through the material faster and want to advance and students who need to revise multiple times.
In addition, the possibility to learn on any device, be it a laptop, tablet, or phone, helps with flexibility and motivation. One can learn while sitting in traffic, in the dentist's waiting room, or while having their morning coffee.
Access to key resources
A very valuable aspect of online learning and training is that key resources are always available. Whereas in a traditional training setting, the employees rely on the notes they’ve taken personally, which can vary in quality or can be lost, eLearning information remains accessible on the company servers. That means that they can be revisited by anyone, at any time, for reassurance, refreshing of knowledge, or for quick checks. That’s an invaluable resource that saves the company a lot of time and money and the employee a lot of stress.
Fits employees’ flexible lifestyles
And speaking of flexibility, it’s what attracts most people to eLearning in the first place. As a working professional, life is already busy and hectic enough, so making time for further education or training can be challenging. eLearning meets that challenge head-on, allowing employees to fit learning into their existing schedule instead of having to create a schedule around their classes. That is a tremendously valuable incentive, as it minimizes time wasted and makes the most of the employee’s energy, time, and resources.
Group settings can help trainees with motivation, as the structure can provide some comfort and familiarity. However, a classroom setting can also be intimidating for some - that can mean they hold back or are not getting the attention they need in order to properly engage with the material. eLearning eliminates this issue because each student learns at their own pace, in their own time, and is free to make mistakes without scrutinizing the group or the educator. The lack of stress can be a huge motivator and encourage more employees to take on courses.
Ensures training consistency and standardization
When training and education are made available through eLearning, that ensures a certain standard of quality. All employees are getting the same materials, so they are getting the same training. With traditional training, it largely depends on the instructor and the way they decide to teach the lesson. With online learning, there are no inconsistencies, and the company can use the same modules to train year after year, knowing that the style of teaching is consistent across batches of employees.
How Companies Benefit from eLearning
The cost reduction that results from making eLearning available to employees is unparalleled. Similar to the benefits of working from home, giving employees the option to engage in eLearning means that the company does not need to pay for transportation costs, for a dedicated educator (or multiple), accommodation costs, or food and beverage costs. Especially since training seminars and other educational activities tend to run across several days, the savings are significant. Training magazine suggests that a company is able to save 80% on printing costs alone.
It doesn’t just reduce costs, but it actively generates profit. One survey spanning 2,500 different companies reported that companies with training programs have increased profit margins (24%), and the revenue per employee more than doubled (218%).
Employees who benefit from company-paid training or education are better equipped for everyday tasks, and when able to learn from home instead of going away for professional training, that means they are able to continue to focus on their work, as well as learning. Working from home unequivocally boosts productivity, and the same effect can be achieved via online learning.
Increase Employee Retention
With the Great Resignation fresh on everyone’s minds, employee retention is more critical than ever, and offering opportunities for self-improvement, further education, and career advancement through eLearning is a great way to do it. Employees are more loyal and satisfied when they’re invested in their company and when they feel their employer is invested in them. Paying for eLearning courses is a demonstration of their value to the company and the company’s investment in their future. It’s an easy, convenient, comparatively lower-cost avenue than traditional training options and
Impact on the Environment
It may not be the primary motivation for setting up online training courses, but opting for online learning over traditional, in-person learning can hugely impact the environment. For one, the decreased traffic alone can reduce the carbon footprint and decrease energy consumption. It is estimated that CO2 emissions are reduced by 85%, while energy consumption is reduced by 90% per student who forgoes traditional classroom learning in favor of eLearning.
eLearning and the Global Market
As the popularity of eLearning grows, we’re witnessing more and more countries adopt it and actively support learners in their effort to attain higher education remotely. While the United States is the biggest eLearning market, many other parts of the world are becoming interested and creating resources for eLearners.
The Asian market is especially committed to growth, but the market is developing consistently all over the world, year after year, especially in the wake of the pandemic, with very populous countries especially benefitting from this educational avenue that is more easily accessible to a remote or impoverished population.
eLearning Statistics Across the Globe
While eLearning has been a trend for a few years, now it was precipitated by covid. With schools being closed in almost 200 countries all over the world, billions of children were left with gaps in their schooling. Most countries could quickly pivot to online learning, but for others, it’s been significantly more difficult to ensure remote education.
- 1.5 billion students from 191 countries have been displaced and had their education interrupted by school closures during the pandemic. That also includes 63 million teachers for both primary and secondary education. eLearning has become a helpful and convenient way to compensate for the loss.
- According to eLearning statistics, 90% of the richest countries in the world switched to remote learning. However, this has also highlighted inherent inequalities between countries and communities within the same country. While eLearning makes it easier for some low-income individuals to further their education, it can also hinder some of them because of the barrier of entry - good access to broadband internet.
- While most countries in the world enjoy decent internet access, Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rates of online access on the whole globe, making eLearning more difficult and thus sharpening the educational crisis created by SARS-COV 2. Because of that, the government has taken it upon itself to start offering radio lessons every day as a means of helping students stay on top of the school.
Countries with Best Conditions for eLearning
In recent years, as eLearning has become more popular and even necessary, especially during the pandemic, conditions for it have been improving. Certain parts of the world are embracing remote learning more than others, either by necessity or because they’re interested in advancing education through alternative means. Countries with good internet access and
- It is no surprise that the countries ahead in terms of resources and access to eLearning are Northern European and Western European countries. Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are all in the top 5 best conditions for eLearning, including computer access (over 97%), broadband speed (100 Mbps+), as well as the price of tutoring per hour ($16-$26/h).
- North America is also one of the global areas committed to investing in eLearning and providing good conditions for people to access remote education. Despite their inferior stats compared to Europe, the market grows in the United States and Canada every single year, regardless of the state of a general college education or the state of the economy. In addition, Canadians get the best value for money when it comes to online access, and their government commits to a whopping 31% GDP per capita investment in education.
- The UK, while landing in 16th place overall, has a unique advantage in that it offers an impressive 4281 remote courses, up to 20 times more than European counterparts like Spain or Germany. More variety means there are more interest and more opportunities for users to sign up.
4 Top Countries excelling in eLearning
While a lot of countries all over the world are embracing eLearning and pouring a lot of time and resources into it, there are a few that stand out for one reason or another. From a particularly expansive remote course catalog to a major effort towards helping people have access to eLearning resources, China, the United States, South Korea, and India are among the top countries excelling in eLearning.
The United States boasts an eLearning sector that spans a lot of different niches and industries, not being limited to just certain disciplines. It’s one of the major things that recommends it as a global leader in eLearning.
6 million students are benefiting from online learning, whether full-time, part-time or just stand-alone courses and classes. In the wake of its incredible popularity, academic institutions have taken note and broadened their offerings to include online learning. Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, and Princeton are just some of the universities that now make eLearning available to their students.
India is thought to be in second place in eLearning because it’s one of the countries where the online learning market is growing faster than the traditional academic industry. Given the current education crisis, eLearning comes in as a much-needed alternative to supplement the efforts of the traditional in-person education system, especially for those living in remote areas.
In this case, eLearning serves as a democratization of education, with education being available to anyone with an internet connection that can support online lessons. It’s also massively helpful for those who cannot afford to enroll in a traditional institution or cannot do so because of work responsibilities. Online education enables them to take advantage of the flexible nature of the classes and get an education through alternative means.
China is a very academic-minded country, and they have fully embraced online learning. With more than 70 online colleges and institutions, eLearning is easily accessible to large swaths of people who desire to get a higher education or otherwise deepen their knowledge on certain topics and in certain industries.
China is no stranger to remote education, having explored other avenues for distance learning in the past, such as radio or television, both of which were meant to help people further their education and give them a leg up. Education is one of the necessities for upward economic mobility, so the state encourages any avenue for further education.
With one of the highest internet speeds in the world, South Korea is one of the very best candidates for online learning, even in rural areas that are not normally as well connected. With a preoccupation with technology and innovation, South Koreans are flocking to online learning, with more and more people enrolling every year, forgoing traditional in-person higher education.
There is an effort to reform the education industry in the country by helping it become more flexible and less restrictive. That enables students to take on subjects they’re interested in studying at their own pace and in a time frame that works with their lifestyle and work commitments.
Technology is becoming increasingly intertwined with education, so it was just a matter of time before we started using it to help people access higher education. Or, in underdeveloped countries or very populous ones, increase literacy rates. While these countries are singled out for doing particularly well, a lot of others are catching up and laying the foundation for tomorrow’s reformed educational system.
eLearning Platform Stats
While the eLearning industry was already on the upswing before 2020, the pandemic pushed it to the forefront of our minds and presented it as a mainstream alternative to traditional education.
From that moment, its growth was significantly accelerated, with more and more platforms and options popping up to meet the demand on the market of not just students who were no longer able to attend in-person university courses but also professionals in search of personal development and companies looking to offer training for employees.
Two years later, eLearning is not just a good option to explore but a mainstay and go-to of many when it comes to personal and professional development, with 77% of U.S. organizations choosing it for training and 85% of teachers continuing to use digital learning tools for learning exercises for their students.
Leading Online Learning Platforms
Best Overall: Coursera
For those who are looking for a great all-rounder, it doesn’t get better than Coursera. With over 3000 courses available across a multitude of disciplines, half free of charge, Coursera attracts a huge number of academic and professional users.
The biggest advantage by far is the fact that the courses are accredited, and they’re coming from actual institutions (more than 200 of them) and not just mimicking academic courses. It’s an excellent resource for those interested in a university education but not ready to make that kind of financial commitment. Degrees and certifications are also available, which can be valuable, particularly in a professional context. Further education and training are often required for raises and promotions.
However, many courses are also available just for personal development. There are various topics to be explored via engaging multimedia courses that aim to create an educational experience as close to a remote academic close as possible.
On the other hand, you should be informed that the free courses come with no certification, and the academic degree programs do need separate applications.
Best for Niche Topics: Udemy
Udemy has more courses than any other platform. Sitting at an incredible 183,000 courses taught by 65,000 instructors, every niche is covered and accounted for. If you’re looking for a very specific discipline, this is the place to find it.
The experience at Udemy is highly personalized, and each student gets exactly what they want. That includes the kind of educational experience they’re interested in - video, audio, text-based lessons, tests, and quizzes - everything is meant to be as interactive and immersive as possible to make it interesting for the students.
In addition, courses are available in 65 different languages to suit every type of student, regardless of location and background.
A downside is that not all instructors are equally engaged, and the standard of quality differs across different instructors and courses.
Best for Creative Fields: Skillshare
Of all the platforms available, Skillshare is possibly the most well-known. It’s taken off particularly well during the pandemic, with a lot of creative courses being offered and advertised on social media. Among the 70 courses available, there is photography, art, animation, interior design, sewing, and many other creative pursuits.
Unlike other platforms, Skillshare isn’t focused on academic courses and college-level classes but is instead an informal platform where the regular person may seek to enrich their skillset and learn something new.
Most classes are in the form of video lessons that allow users to take the class anywhere and on any device they may have, whether a laptop, a tablet, or just a phone. Plus, the classes are available on a subscription-based model, so anyone who pays for the subscription can take as many different courses as they want, which can be a major incentive.
Best for Celebrity Lessons: MasterClass
If you’ve been online for the past couple of years, you’ve surely seen MasterClass advertised. The primary incentive for MasterClass is that celebrities act as instructors, and you’re learning from the best in the business across different disciplines and industries.
It may appear that these would be superficial classes, but they are actually complete courses of around 20 lessons, so students get significant value from attending them. The best part is that you’re not risking a bad lesson from random instructors; you’re going in knowing exactly who the instructor is and trusting that they are successful and knowledgeable.
The lessons are taught via video, but they do not consist of just theoretical lectures - you also get class discussions and some workbook time. Like Skillshare, Masterclass is subscription-based, so students get unlimited access to classes.
Of course, a possible con is that the courses are not at an academic level. This is not the right choice if you’re looking for professional advancement. However, if you’re only interested in personal enrichment, MasterClass is a good option.
Best for STEM: EdX
EdX is the real deal for those interested in college-level education. It partners with prestigious universities like Berkley, MIT, or Harvard, so there is no question about the level of quality of the classes. With 15,000 instructors teaching courses across lots of different disciplines, there are options for everyone, including students who wish for career advancement.
STEM topics are especially favored in the roster, but art, humanities, or languages are also available.
The biggest advantage of EdX is definitely the fact that the platform actually gives out professional degree certificates. That makes it incredibly valuable from a professional development standpoint compared to other more casual platforms.
Another valuable feature is the option for transferable undergraduate credits you can earn in specific lessons. The classes are very similar to actual university classes in that they’re not one-sided video lectures, you also get discussions, assignments, quizzes, and reading material. The classes with a verified certificate come at a cost, but the majority are free of charge, and even financial assistance is available.
Best for Career Building: Udacity
The unique thing about Udacity is definitely the “nanodegrees”, which are programs that only take four months to finish, but which are still valuable professional development. A lot of them are tech-based, which Udacity specializes in, but it also offers courses in plenty of other disciplines.
The platform is similar to a coding boot camp of sorts, with programming, data science, cloud computing, and web development. Courses are both at a beginner and advanced level to suit everyone. The instructors are professionally trained and offer helpful, practical examples and applications, as well as hands-on practice and one-on-one code reviews.
Best for Data Learning: Pluralsight
Pluralsight is an excellent option for data learning and professional learners, in general. Mini degrees are available for teams or individuals seeking to develop and deepen their knowledge. Cybersecurity, information security, data science, and software development are just some of the disciplines available.
Pluralsight works a little differently than other similar platforms in that it supports students to take a “path” - or a mini degree. That is comprised of a group of adjacent courses that together form a cohesive path for a particular discipline or general direction. In total students can choose from over 7,500 courses which can form hundreds of different paths. Individual courses are also available if you only desire a commitment of a few hours at most.
This platform is significantly more expensive than some of the others detailed here, but the general quality level and value for money make it worth it. On the other hand, beginner users will find themselves out of their depth, as courses are primarily geared towards advanced and professional users.
The eLearning industry is definitely on the upswing, and the proof is in the number of different platforms that are cropping up to cover the demand. Whether you’re looking for professional development or just personal enrichment, there is a course available for your needs. Classes are offered at different price points and for different needs and may be taken individually or in a corporate environment.
eLearning Trends and Projections
One of the best things about eLearning is that it represents the future. By taking full advantage of this incredible resource at our disposal - the internet - it managed to disrupt a system that has gone unchallenged and unreformed for a very long time. The most exciting thing is that this is only the beginning, and eLearning will continue to innovate and improve upon the foundation that is already there.
AI is slowly but surely being incorporated into education. It’s possible to personalize the learning process, guide students, and include unique features meant to help one navigate the eLearning process. eLearning companies that are able to take advantage of AI will be uniquely benefitted in the long-term against competitors and in the eyes of the users.
As mobile phones have become our primary means of accessing the internet and represent our main tool for navigating the online world and not only, it is unsurprising that eLearning is also catching up and incorporating smartphones in the learning process.
Courses are now tailor-made for smartphones, or at the very least, optimized for mobile, due to the increasing number of people only using smartphones and forgoing computers entirely. This is a democratization of education, in some ways, as it permits people to learn on the go, from remote locations, or by using public Wi-Fi for free.
Micro learning is an approach that benefits huge swaths of the population. In fact, it may very well be more effective than traditional classes, period. By breaking down long classes into shorter, smaller lessons of a few minutes each, you ensure that students are able to remain attentive for the entirety of the lesson, the subject of the lesson is much more focused, and it vastly increases the chance for retention.
In addition, it’s an excellent approach for people with different learning styles, children who have a hard time sitting still for a long period of time, and people with ADHD or even learning deficits.
Games and Apps
Gamification may not seem like the most serious or productive approach to learning, but it’s actually a very smart way to do it. Again, it greatly benefits people who have alternative learning styles, as well as people with attention deficit disorders.
In 2022, the innovations that eLearning can bring to education are just beginning. Now that people are incentivized to explore and invest in remote education, eLearning is about to explode even more than it already has. With AI finding more and more useful applications for our everyday lives and mobile learning becoming commonplace, it’s easier than ever before to enroll in eLearning modules. And with micro learning and gamification making it fun and easy, eLearning may very well become the preferred type of learning.
Even before 2022, eLearning was a growing industry on the verge of a major breakthrough. Just like remote work, it was bound to become more integrated into our society and normalized alongside more traditional educational avenues. However, the 2020 pandemic accelerated that process, and overnight, the industry exploded. Schools were forced to move into eLearning methods by necessity, and a lot of them continued to offer the option - sometimes exclusively - even beyond the return to in-person classes.
The reason for it is that eLearning has an overwhelming amount of net positives. From the flexibility it offers to the convenience - especially for parents working from home or postgraduate students learning and working - to the academic improvements it has proven to bring, online learning is, without a doubt, an option that will only gain more and more ground in the future. All over the world, people are embracing eLearning from K-12 kids to college students to working professionals, and technological advancements will only make it better.
What percentage of students are online learning?
While the percentage depends on location and the time of recording the statistic, as of the fall semester of 2020, a whopping 75% of undergraduates in the United States (11.8 million) were taking at least one online course, with 44% (7 million) were enrolled in distance learning exclusively. That’s a 97% increase from the fall semester 2019 when only 6 million undergraduates were learning remotely. The difference for graduate students exclusively learning online is even starker - 7 million in 2020 compared to 2.4 million in 2019.
Why do students fail to study online?
One of the biggest issues with eLearning is the problem of motivation and self-discipline. While many people thrive under this model, it can also cause issues. Without the structure of the traditional classroom and a teacher physically present, a lot of students can struggle to remain attentive. Self-scheduling is also a skill a lot of students - particularly primary school ones - have never had to develop precisely because their default schedule is so structured. Left to their own devices, students may struggle to start or retain momentum in their studies or homework.
Why do online students drop out?
Many different factors may lead a student to drop out of an online course. While a course load that is too simple or too difficult is as much of an issue as it is for in-person courses, there are also some idiosyncratic difficulties when it comes to online education. Lack of familiarity with the system is one of the reasons why students may choose to interrupt their studies. Technological illiteracy or low-tech literacy can also contribute to general difficulties with time management and workload management. Freedom and flexibility can be a demotivator as well as an advantage.
What is the impact of eLearning on students' academic performance?
While it’s true that some students are negatively impacted by a lack of a classroom setting and traditional teaching methods, studies tend to show that students are largely benefitted from remote lessons. 45% of the students involved in one study said that online school is helping them become more productive and organized. Not only that, but the study showed improved learning outcomes for the majority of the students, with skills ranging across several categories seeing significant improvements, from information literacy to time management and responsibility.
How is online learning affecting students' mental health?
Despite being a significant advantage for working students or students who are raising families or are otherwise unable to access traditional education, online learning can also be a very isolating experience with negative effects, particularly for young children. Since everything is happening in the confines of one’s own home, there is little to no opportunity for socialization and no access to group activities or on-campus facilities. That means that the student loses an integral part of the educational experience and as a result, may become demotivated, depressed, or anxious. This is part of why many students end up ultimately dropping out.