Trends in online education

As far as I can cast my mind back, of all areas of society, education has remained one of the few stones left largely unturned by disruptive technology.

But given the amount of debt associated with multi-year degrees and employers re-thinking their hiring criteria, higher education is coming under increased scrutiny.

Enter, online learning, an industry which thrives from this skepticism and is not subject to the same constraints as traditional red brick institutions. With lock downs overshadowing individuals across the globe – technology supported interaction has been thrust upon many. Looking at statistics from popular online course providers like Udemy it is clear to see how COVID-19 has catalysed the rise of online learning.

Udemy released a study on global trends in online learning which showed the following statistics since last March (2019):

  • 425% increase in enrollments for consumers
  • 55% increase in course creation by instructors
  • 80% increase in usage from businesses and governments

Within this larger narrative we can further dissect the market by looking at associated trends and solutions being presented in sub-markets: 

(1) Prominence of online tutoring

According to KCW, “80% of schools in 2020 are set to receive less funding per pupil in real terms than 2015.”  This has driven record numbers of parents to invest in additional educational support. 

We have seen the success of this sector underpinned by many tech-savvy students looking to fit tutoring into their schedule and parents drawn to the flexibility/pricing. On the back of this lucrative intersection Technavio has forecasted the K12 global tuition market to reach $600BN by year 2023. 

(2) Rise of Microlearning

Microlearning refers to splitting up large topics into bite-size pieces and delivery of content through activities, quizzes and games. This method of delivery is especially effective for occupation-specific content. 

One of the great examples is CFI (Corporate Finance Institute) who break down hard-to-understand topics such as building a three statement financial model into bite-size videos supported by integrated quizzes. As we move into the future we may see prospective students and career-switchers adopt these styles of teaching ahead of traditional education.

Just by looking at these trends we can see how inefficiencies in the traditional education system have been quickly filled by private sub-markets. These two markets illustrate how technology has allowed us to create online content which rivals in person teaching and society’s insatiable hunger for convenience. With this in mind there is only one thing that is for the education industry, and that is that nothing is certain.

80% of schools in 2020 are set to receive less funding per pupil in real terms than 2015

By Shaan Bharwani on 23/10/2020