The Future of E-learning

The e-learning market is set to keep growing, with one recent study suggesting it could be worth more than £20 million by 2020, as more companies and government agencies switch to online learning platforms as a means of educating their staff and cutting costs.

Technavio, an international market research company that specialises in predicting the future of the markets, has made the bold assertion that e-learning is set to become a massive industry that has an impact on every major organisation within just a few years.

The clouds above

E-learning is gathering pace thanks to cloud computing, which means that the whole infrastructure can be stored online and accessed from anywhere. Public acceptance and improving standards mean that everyone from the NHS to schools themselves are adopting e-learning as an integral part of their training and educational programmes. That is inevitably spilling over into the private sector. The bold prediction of the potential value of e-learning in four years’ time is clearly headline chasing PR, but there is no doubt that the industry is gathering pace and that companies that have not yet switched on to the value of online learning programmes are lagging behind.

“The corporate e-learning market is mainly driven by the rise in digitisation and the adoption of advanced technologies in the corporate sector. Incorporation of new technologies help improve teaching and learning methods, while enhancing the quality of training and employee productivity,” said Technavio lead analyst Jhansi Mary J. “This trend is exerting constant pressure on corporations to update their training programmes and processes through the adoption of e-learning solutions. Its growing prevalence encourages maximum participation of employees through digital learning materials, including video-based training and presentations.”

The advantages of e-learning

The advantages of e-learning are obvious. Not only can a company bring all its staff up to clearly defined levels with a system of education and testing, the intranet system can also automatically ensure that every staff member has completed mandatory training courses. This can save your HR department work and can be tied into an intranet system and collaboration software that can do a great deal of its own basic administration.

Previously, courses that were expensive and held off-site can now be provided to your entire workforce for no extra cost, which gives your employees the chance to better themselves and attend courses that would previously have been off limits due to prohibitive costs to the company. They can also study in their own time, which means time out of the workplace is kept to a minimum.

Standard practice

The courses are also standardised. Even with the best will in the world, outside trainers that come into companies can never truly ensure a totally standardised course. Different teachers, different days, and even different students can all impact the way a training day unfolds, while e-learning is the closest we can offer to controlled conditions and slight modifications to the course can be tested for improvements in a scientific fashion.

There was resistance to e-learning by certain sectors in the past, but now nurses are learning additional skills in their spare time, students are reviewing lectures and complex university subjects online, as well as taking exams, and companies can even train up Health & Safety officers from the comfort of their laptop screen.

Plugging all of this into collaboration software and a solid company intranet shows where the company is lacking in significant skills, especially if it is tied into HR and staff turnover is taken into account. In the old days, it could come as a shock to realise that your only qualified fire officer had left the company months before.

Raise the flag

With a solid system in place, your own software will flag up skills shortages and then you can simply fill the gaps, using the online learning packages. Of course, keen employees will already be one step ahead of the game and will take advantage of the chance to improve their skillset. This inevitably improves their career progression within your company and others, so a solid e-learning system can even be an incentive and help attract the best recruits to a new role as they will appreciate the ability to learn new skills.

There is almost nothing that can’t be taught with e-learning and even doctors, police officers, and chief executives are taking to e-learning as they look to increase their skillset.

A virtual future?

The future could be even brighter than the predictions, too, with Virtual Reality set to take e-learning to another level with the widespread adoption of Oculus Rift headsets. Facebook now owns Oculus Rift, which means maximum penetration is virtually assured.

So the future of e-learning could be profoundly affected by the next generation of technology that opens up a world of opportunities. Where will we be in 2020? That we simply cannot know, but we do know that if you’ve not adopted e-learning as a pillar of your business development, then it’s time to get on board.

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