COVID-19 pandemic has given a big impact on the world. Despite adverse effects, the pandemic has prompted many changes and developments in various spheres, most notably technologies. Technology developments have been accelerated to help humans carry out their daily activities while having to stay at home due to quarantine. One of them is the education sector, which is marked by the rising use of e-learning/EdTech.
The pandemic has forced schools to shut down in many parts of the globe, causing teaching and learning activities to be conducted remotely. The adaptation of online learning has been spurred ever since. Today, e-learning/EdTech has become a part of everyday life, whereby education activities are mostly undertaken on the digital platform. This massive shift has forever changed education, not only its practice but also its worldwide market.
What do these terms mean?
To discuss further e-learning/EdTech and its impact on education, we must first understand the actual meaning of these terms
E-learning is the process of learning which utilizes the internet or any electronic technologies. Instructional materials are delivered by the teachers via digital platforms and can be accessed by the learners from remote places and various devices at any time. Therefore, learning materials are allowed to reach a wider audience. While other terms like online learning, computer-based learning, and web-based learning are occasionally used, e-learning dominates as the most used term in organizations.
The process of e-learning would not be possible without EdTech. EdTech is a term that refers to any educational startup and its products of technology that aim to improve and enhance the educational process. This includes features such as mobile learning, chatbots, machine learning, and improvement of augmented and virtual reality as well as artificial intelligence. In the last few years, EdTech has helped shape and improve the learning experience.
A glimpse into the market
Two years into the pandemic, educational technology utilization has increased. It is been used every day by various classes of learners, from elementary students to employees. A torrent of education startups is introduced daily and the market shows no sign of slowing down. Learning platforms such as Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy, and Duolingo have been serving millions of people, providing learning services for a different and wide range of fields.
Some universities are also providing courses that are accessible online. The Imperial College London for instance has offered a course regarding the science of coronavirus on Coursera which became the most enrolled class on the platform in early 2020. Stanford and Harvard University o the other hand have been giving access to online courses for numerous categories.
These show that e-learning is high in demand. Even in 2019, the online education market is forecasted to reach $350 billion 2025according to Research and Markets while global EdTech investment reached $18.66billion. With the increasing demand, these projections must have reached a way bigger number since the pandemic.
This huge growth in the e-learning market is presumably driven by the world’s rapid change. As the changes in the world happen faster, many skills quickly get less relevant. Therefore, preparing self with relevant skills to be able to compete well in the global market is today’s biggest challenge for learners.
Author of 21 Lessons for the 21Century, scholar Yuval Noah Harari deciphers in his book how schools continue to exercise conventional learning which focuses on traditional academic skills and applies rote learning, while skills such as critical thinking and adaptability are more important today. At this point, e-learning will be an ideal catalyst to create a better and more effective method of education.
Benefits of using E-learning
The first benefit of e-learning will be time. Some studies suggest that students need 40-60% less time to learn things through e-learning. This is because students who use online learning reportedly can retain25-60% more materials, which is way more than only 8-10% in a conventional classroom. E-learning allows students to learn at their own pace. They can choose which material to learn first, repeat the study, and even gain new information regarding the material through the internet.
This would be a great opportunity for the entrepreneurs as well. As implied previously, e-learning users can study at their own pace and arrange their schedules. This gives entrepreneurs a huge chance to stay up to date with the newest developments and advance theirEdTech rapidly.
Another benefit of e-learning is the much lower cost. E-learning is more affordable for both teachers and learners to undergo the education process as there are no commuting costs and learning materials can often be obtained digitally at no cost. Teachers do not have to meet the learners directly as they can “meet” and communicate through video conference technologies. Matter of fact, they do not have to meet each other at all for manyEdTech support asynchronous learning activities, whereby teachers can create teaching videos and materials which can be accessed by a massive audience anytime. This type of learning process is called MassiveOpen Online Courses (MOOCs).
The challenges of E-learning
However, challenges also emerge towards E-learning or EdTech. The biggest challenge to overcome is inequality. Effectivity of e-learning is highly dependent on a person’s affordability of the supporting technology. Today, technology gaps can still be seen across countries or within a country between income brackets. While most of the privileged people have access to digital means, most of the disadvantaged do not. While many are concerned about e-learning distribution, some countries such as Australia have been trying to prove that equality can be achieved by providing digital equipment for people in need.
E-learning has been proven as the future of education. It is the ultimate solution for learning during the pandemic and will continue to help us develop a better education to face the era of globalization. However, all these could not run effectively if we do not attempt to solve the inequalities as a challenge of digital globalization itself.