As learning leaders are filling positions with millennials and Gen Z, the e-learning market is expanding rapidly -- meaning HR needs to be on top of the trend now.
New research predicts that online learning is set to grow at a rate of 5% around the world over the course of the next decade. What factors are driving this rapid growth, and will online learning outpace traditional classroom learning?
The multi-billion dollar e-learning market still in its upward growth cycle
According to a news release from ReportLinker, the global e-learning market is set to grow at rate of 5.08% to reach $243.8 billion by 2022. The market in 2014 was worth $165.36 billion, marking a potential growth of $78.44 billion in 8 years. Led by leaders in the online learning space, such as Adobe Systems Inc., Blackboard Inc., Cisco Systems, Citrix, McGraw-Hill, Microsoft, and Saba, the demand for more e-learning opportunities is so far driven by the large consumer market using mobile devices combined with corporations that want on-demand learning for their employees.
What’s making online learning expand so fast?
Other factors driving the growth of online learning include ease of accessibility, enhanced technical developments, and the decreased cost of delivery on cloud-based learning management systems.
In the USA and Europe, there has been an increase in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in working environments, which means more employees are accessing their information and training via mobile technology.
“While the United States leads the sales [of e-learning solutions], Asia is the second largest market in e-learning products,” ReportLinker advises. China, Australia, India, and Latin America are set to follow due to increased access to Internet services and an above-average growth in the use of mobile devices.
Is online education outpacing online learning?
Babson Survey Research Group’s most recent report Online Report Card, with support from the Online Learning Consortium and several other leaders in the education space, highlights a steady increase in online learning by post-secondary schools.
Starting around 2011, there has been a marked decrease in traditional enrollments, while students are opting for combined online and blended environment experiences. The study also revealed that:
- 28% of students now taking at least one distance learning course (an increase of 217,275 students since 2014)
- 72.7% of undergraduates and 38.7% of graduate-level students are attending public institutions that offer online learning
- 71.4% of academic leaders now rate learning outcomes in online education as the same or better than face-to-face instruction
It may be too early to tell if online learning will outpace traditional classroom learning, but keep in mind that e-learning options are becoming more familiar with those who will soon be entering the workforce. Gen Z will be used to using such tools and will likely expect them in the market.
Open source learning platforms and MOOCs also open up the doors for free education for all, which could directly impact employer offerings.
Online learning and the future of the workplace
In terms of online learning and how it’s influencing the work experience of many adults today, one must consider the movement towards a full cycle that encompasses recruitment and onboarding to training and performance management. It’s transforming how HR operates. Online learning is now seen as a tool for enhancing the overall experience of candidates from the moment they encounter the company to their first few weeks on the job.
This “professional ecosystem” as it’s being called, is best explained by Jane Hart, Founder of Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), and author of Modern Workplace Learning: A Resource Book for L&D. Understanding online learning happens in three-phases:
1. A unique mindset – to draw from personal and professional experiences.
2. Relationship building – to build a learning network and community.
3. Time and commitment – to overcome barriers and improve outcomes.
Online learning is a growing aspect of HR as management teams embrace e-learning and all of its benefits. Growth is expected to take place across all industries where there are open-minded leaders brave enough to step into this new world.