E-learning is a growing industry, with vast potential and significant growth being achieved in many global regions at the moment.
Part of the reason for this is the diversity of learning opportunities on offer. From Coursera, Khan Academy and EdX basic courses to schemes that deal with manual tasks and workplace safety, every conceivable area is covered and more are being added all the time.
Let’s take an example that you want to be an accountant. Coursera has everything for it, from basic courses to a Master of Science in Accountancy course where you, online, can obtain a master's degree (pro tip: you can even get a scholarship for it). And if you’re preparing to become a CPA, the only thing that you need to decide is which course to take.
With that in mind, the following e-learning industry statistics which show how well things are going at the moment and the trajectory that will be followed going forwards should not be surprising.
1. Impressive annual expansion
The latest analysis carried out by Orbis Research suggests that over the next decade, the e-learning industry will enjoy a compound annual rate of growth of 9.5 per cent, with a number of assets fueling this healthy increase.
This will effectively mean that between 2017 and 2026, the size of the market will have more than doubled, hitting a value of just over $398 million by the end of the forecasted period if it remains on its current path.
That is not to say that the e-learning industry is without its flaws; analysts identified issues such as the speed with which technologies used by vendors are rendered redundant by subsequent introductions as being just one of the things that are hampering growth. If these are dealt with, the industry could exceed expectations.
2. E-learning is ubiquitous
In the mid-1990s when the first online learning platforms were made available, just a tiny fraction of businesses took advantage. By 2011 the uptake had risen to 77 per cent and in 2020 this should hit 98 per cent, according to Zeqr.
In essence, every major organisation and small business will be taking advantage of e-learning tools in one way or another. The same report also pinpointed the growing popularity of video in this context, with the vast majority of respondents signalling that they would be harnessing multimedia elements to augment the learning experience.
Read more: 4 Reasons to use video for business training [Infographic]
The ubiquity of e-learning today is no surprise given the wealth of platforms that are available and the features they provide. Likewise the flexibility of digital solutions means that people can learn in a way that suits their own strengths, rather than being forced to follow a far more rigid framework for training as would have been unavoidable in the past.
3. North America is a dominant adopter
While e-learning is extending its tendrils into many countries, the North American continent is where it has enjoyed the most widespread adoption.
At the moment a full 40 per cent of the e-learning market is accounted for by activities in this region, with Europe sitting in second place in terms of adoption rates.
Part of the reason for its popularity in the US and Canada is that it allows for learning resources to be offered remotely, rather than needing to be concentrated within single geographic locations. This allows people to receive training far more flexibly, with the rise of mobile devices as access points indicating yet another intriguing trend within this industry.
Also worth noting is that the e-learning market is split almost exactly down the middle between academic institutions and commercial organizations. Students and researchers at schools and universities are therefore just as likely to take advantage of e-learning courses as professionals who have joined the workforce after their education has concluded.
The popularity of e-learning in North America further exemplifies the success that cloud computing-powered IT solutions have enjoyed in this region. For the time being, its dominance looks unlikely to be challenged.
E-learning is not just about remote access to resources and highly trained professionals in the field of your interest. It’s also about convenience and trying to stay up to date in a dynamic new world that’s changing at dizzying speed.
On one side, for the trained professionals who want to stay ahead of their game, it’s a fantastic opportunity. On the other side, it’s an alternative to standard education, where most children and adults are stuck sometimes in an old and unforgiving system.
In fact, according to some specialists in education, e-learning may become the standard in schools. Still, we have a long way to get there, so it’s best to take advantage of the chances we have right now.