Because of the advancement of educational technology, the increased accessibility of the internet, and the COVID-19 outbreak, online learning has seen significant growth over the last decade.
Even before the pandemic, online learning has already shown promise. In fact, according to a 2008 study conducted by the US Department of Education, 66% of postsecondary public and private schools participating in student financial aid programs offered distance learning courses during the 2006-2007 academic year. Meanwhile, 77% of enrolment in for-credit systems also had an online component.
But now, thanks to additional tools, this trend is growing even faster and becoming a proper alternative to on-campus learning. Thanks to educational technology, online learning has become part of the norm.
The COVID-19 outbreak played an important role in this sudden development, speeding up a trend that was already progressing naturally. Schools, universities, and companies were all forced to adapt to the changes brought upon by the pandemic. It made remote working and online learning necessary.
Research already predicted the online education market to be worth $350 billion by 2025, and this was before the pandemic hit and completely changed the educational landscape.
Online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, Lynda, and Udacity emerged as industry leaders during this time, making online education more accessible to millions of people. Some of these platforms focus on specific courses. For example, Skillshare mostly focuses on animation, photography, and lifestyle courses, while Coursera offers academic courses.
The first online-only curriculum was introduced in 1994, just over a decade after the internet was created, by CALCampus.
This online curriculum was made available for PC-Link, ApplieLink, CompuServe and AOL, along with other major telecommunications networks.
In 1995, the CALCampus online school was made available through CALCampus.com, introducing the idea of schools that are completely based online. This also made real-time classroom tutorials available to the public through the internet.
It is undeniable that online learning’s popularity has increased exponentially in recent years thanks to technological advancements and innovations. An early example of this was when the webcam was first distributed commercially in 1994. It allowed educators to record lessons and upload them onto the proper educational platforms online. Now students can easily send their reply, provide feedback, ask questions, and actively participate in the discussion.
Now with video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, online classes can be done in real time, with students and educators joining the same room and having an online discussion.
People of all ages can utilize various mediums to learn about any topic they want, even from home. There are video tutorials, graphics, slideshows, and other technological tools that present all kinds of information to make learning easier.
Educational technology continues to grow, evolve, and develop to this day. It will only continue to revolutionize the way we learn. E-learning is now being recognized as having significant advantages over traditional classroom-based training, both in the academic and professional settings. It is only a matter of time before online learning completely replaces on-campus learning. Educators and students should expect these two educational mediums to co-exist and continue to develop for the time being. There is also no telling what other technological advancements would come to revolutionize E-learning.