Major world events are often a catalyst for rapid innovation. The COVID-19 crisis has already had an enormous impact on the world; the way businesses operate, the way we work and the way we live has changed dramatically. The pandemic has also utterly disrupted education systems globally and has thrust online learning into the spotlight. The need to quickly adapt how education is provided has become a priority for education institutions around the world; online has stepped forward to meet this need as the preferred medium of delivery, and online is here to stay.
The naysayers may argue that this unplanned and sudden move to online learning – with limited or no training, insufficient bandwidth, and little preparation will have resulted in a poor user experience for some learners; the digital champions will argue that a much needed new hybrid model of education, with significant learner benefits, will rise from the ashes of the COVID pandemic. Online learning or eLearning is not new but COVID-19 has certainly helped bring it to a much wider audience and offer it mainstream acceptance. The pandemic has forced schools, universities, and companies to embrace virtual learning. Even before the pandemic the eLearning Market was valued at USD 200 billion and it is now anticipated to grow at over 8% between 2020 and 2026. There are many reasons for the growing popularity of this medium of education, here are some of the drivers behind its success:
Perhaps one of the most notable benefits of online education is the provision of a flexible learning schedule - being able to study and review course materials in your own time. Upskilling is becoming more and more important but our lives are busy and finding time to get to the traditional evening class may be difficult. Online training courses can be taken anytime and can often be self-paced ensuring the learning proceeds at the speed you want to go.
With online provision you can study anywhere - location is not a barrier. Courses can be accessible 24/7. Online learning often offers accessibility in the sense that it uses multiple learning methods – video and audio, pdfs, quizzes and questionnaires. So if you have a preferred way to learn, online learning gives you variety and accommodates people with different needs and requirements.
We live in a world of data but up until this point we have largely ignored data when it comes to performance in education. Online learning opens up access to a system that can track your progress and can highlight your strengths and weaknesses thus allowing you to customize preferences and focus on things that you may find challenging while ignoring things that you have mastered.
As companies migrate their working practices and systems more and more online using cloud technologies, online learning complements this, becoming integral to the way you work. Companies can integrate and monitor employee learning and development through their ongoing digital transformation. Staff can gain access to bespoke courses accessing training at their fingertips as and when they need it, improving their career progression.
Online learning can be very cost effective – firstly, with no commute, there is less impact on your work-time, no cost of training rooms, and it’s scalable to the amount of people you want to train.
Online provision offers enormous choice both in terms of subject area and type of course. You can study anything from a bitesize course to a certificate to a full Master’s degree online – all from the comfort of your sofa!
Finally, not only is online education good for your career and personal development, online learning is better for the environment in that there is a smaller carbon footprint - less paper, less traffic, less air pollution.
So is online learning the silver bullet? One of the big questions for educators and employers today is to what extent technology can offer a transformational influence for learning. Technology can be great fun to use, and opens up new horizons of opportunity for all who use it, but does it actually impact positively on learning? Some will view online education as something of a virtual Pandora’s Box, others will hold it up as heralding a new dawn for education. Learning is indeed a very complex process, and there is no single technology that supports all types of learning and meets the needs of every learner; however, to support learning of any kind, personal choice of method, tools and context are vital and online learning can deliver these key ingredients and at scale. And the newest kid on the block is already performing well - online courses have been credited with higher retention and graduation rates, increased access and cost savings of as much as 50 percent, according to a study from Arizona State University investigating outcomes of digital learning.
With all these advantages, it is not surprising that online learning has thrived in 2020, and will continue to do so, adapting as technology advances and as teaching methods evolve. Blended learning courses, for example, include a mix of both face-to-face, instructor-led learning, and online or digital course components that give learners some control over path and pace.
At the GTA University Centre we offer a multitude of face to face, online and blended learning courses including the fully online IoD course ‘Directing Companies in a Digital World’ or the ICA ‘Anti Money Laundering’ and virtual classroom courses such as ‘Project Risk Management’, ‘Project Planning Techniques’ and ‘The Exceptional PA’. We can also work with organisations to create bespoke virtual training programmes.
We also work closely with Lucy Kirby and her team at the Digital Greenhouse tracking trends in online learning. Lucy has been a long time champion of digital skills and recognises that for many companies and jurisdictions, virtualising learning programmes is an essential part of business at present:
Online learning is not new, but with such a rise in customer demand, the choice and quality has grown exponentially. For the Digital Greenhouse, this means connecting into programmes that traditionally would have required travel and high costs. Working with Avado Learning and our new sister hub ScaleSpace London, these barriers have been lowered. This provides a whole suite of digital and creative webinars, scale-up business programmes and pathways, more accessible to Guernsey, to complement existing on-island face to face learning courses.
Whatever your learning and development needs, whether online or face to face, we are here to ensure your team have the training they need, so come and talk to us today! Contact the GTA University Centre on 01481 224570 or via our website: www.gta.gg