How has Covid-19 Affected the E-Learning Industry?

by | 9 Jul, 20

COVID-19 continues to cause seismic shifts around the world. Countries have gone on lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, and businesses were forced to implement work-from-home policies to continue operations.

With these policies in place, supply chains of 94% of Fortune 1000 companies were disrupted, and business experts predicted a $2.7 trillion cost to the global economy even before WHO labelled the coronavirus a pandemic.

Although it looks grim at the moment, economies worldwide are bound to bounce back, including the UK. With industries and transportation restricted, we are also seeing global carbon emissions drop by over 8%, with daily emissions reduced by 17% compared to 2019.

Trying as it may be, the current situation presents opportunities to businesses that are flexible, adaptable, and open to new ideas and ways of working—starting with how they deliver their training in a remote setup.

How COVID-19 is Affecting the E-Learning Industry

As the e-learning industry grows and becomes more integrated into public, commercial, and educational institutions, it too has been dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Increase in demand

The e-learning market was already expected to increase significantly in 2020 and beyond. Projections for the US market were set to a 15.64% growth, exceeding $48 billion. In Europe, the market was forecast to grow by $36.25 billion with a 15% CAGR over the 2019-2023 period.

With lockdowns in place, the need for e-learning platforms is bound to increase all the more. Businesses are now creating online training resources for skill sharing to onboard employees who are new to working remotely.

Consumer behaviour is also changing, as people move online to get the services they usually do in-person. Businesses need to be able to train their work-from-home employees to adapt. And with in-person meetings discouraged (or banned in some countries), e-learning platforms provide an easy way to deliver the information and tools needed for skill sharing.

Not all organisations are adapting fast enough

In-person training has its place in development, but coronavirus has made it a liability for many businesses. COVID-19 sweeping across the globe caught companies gravely unprepared to address their training situation.

Nearly 40% of organisations reliant on face-to-face classroom training before the pandemic hit are now facing challenging training problems, while over 51% are still in the process of transitioning their classroom training to other models. Training budgets have also been hit hard for over 43% of organisations.

Challenged to give better support to clients

E-learning platforms now face the pressing issue of having to support a deluge of businesses experiencing disruptions in their training and trying to make the shift from more traditional learning models.

A recent study found that organisations are finding that they don’t have the infrastructure to support an e-learning platform. Their instructors with backgrounds in ILT and classroom training have little to no experience with remote learning. The current financial strain due to the lockdowns has also severely limited their budgets.

Employees, meanwhile, have to relearn how to learn digitally, as well as balance working at home with leading regular lives while under the extreme stress of living during a pandemic.

Benefits of Moving to E-Learning

Now, more than ever, is the right time for your business to make the move toward e-learning. Here are the major advantages of taking this big step forward today:

1. Prepare for the future

There is no concrete date for when the coronavirus crisis will end. Work as we know it is going through a sea change, and the shift to all things digital is likely.

It is almost impossible to hold classroom training sessions during these times, and while the situation may improve later in the year, we’ll be emerging into a very different economic outlook and business environment. Companies are likely going to need to be smaller, more flexible, and more efficient to survive.

2. Achieve cost-effectiveness

Organisations these days see the value in training, but finding the budget to deliver expensive classroom training programs will be harder to justify. Those attending are less likely to stomach the high costs of going to and participating in face-to-face training.

E-learning doesn’t require any travel for instructors and learners, making it more affordable than attending lectures and seminars. Attendees of e-learning classes also don’t have to worry about social distancing.

The cost-effectiveness for training providers extends to the long-term as well, since the technology is suited to scaling at lower delivery costs.

3. Keep employees productive

Organisations that are understandably experiencing a decline in customer demand during these unprecedented times might find their workers with less time accomplishing goals when they’re on the clock. E-learning can help fill the hours for employees while keeping them productive.

Once employees have been acquainted with how to use the software, they can have more control over the way they learn. They can set their own pace, which helps them retain the knowledge they absorb.

4. Upgrade employees’ skills

Because of the limitations on space, travel, budgets, and other resources, businesses and their workers have adopted new technologies to keep communication lines open. This can easily translate to learning more digital platforms, especially for employees who have yet to modernise their workflow.

It’s also an opportunity to be more creative with training and development, as employees who are up-to-date with the latest technological innovations can help educate their co-workers.

5. Allow timely feedback

E-learning platforms can provide real-time feedback to learners through built-in coursework. Evaluation can be automated, so the moment a learner is done with a course, they can immediately see their grade.

In turn, instructors can easily see all the data the software collects complete with analyses. They can determine how well specific courses are being received and how well the learners are doing.

How Businesses Can Move to E-Learning Successfully

While all the signs point to moving toward e-learning for your training and development, it is not a simple matter of procuring a piece of software. Here are steps you can take to ensure the move is successful:

1. Update your resources

Whatever courses you are planning on uploading to your chosen e-learning platform, take the time to review them. See if the information is still relevant.

Training is supposed to equip your employees with skills that will prepare them for today and tomorrow’s challenges. You do not want them spouting outdated data and practising obsolete techniques.

2. Optimise content for different devices

Convenience is one of the big selling points of e-learning, as it can be done virtually anywhere with an internet connection and remote access to the platform. The problem comes when the content on the platform is only formatted for one device, such as a desktop computer.

Trying to read text or complete forms that aren’t scaled for smartphones or tablets is a hassle and can be a barrier for users who want to engage with the content.

3. Adapt to a virtual environment

Collaborative work still plays an important part in the e-learning experience. Training sessions can be done in teams or with partners through a virtual environment.

Thankfully, video conferencing technology has become much easier to use, along with residential internet connections becoming faster and more reliable. It is possible to have either group or one-on-one classes to augment the education done through e-learning platforms.

4. Invest in a good LMS

Whatever plans you may have for your e-learning strategy ultimately revolve around what Learning Management System (LMS) you choose.

You will either be limited or enabled by the features and capabilities of your LMS. A good LMS should then align with your goals for your learners, from facilitating team-based learning to providing data analytics.

E-Learning During and After the Pandemic

Organisations are realising that surviving COVID-19 requires quickly adapting to changing circumstances. One of the biggest obstacles is shifting training and education online. If there is a positive note for e-learning during these times, it’s that the perceptions of online working have been greatly improved. The acceptance and normalising of telecommuting open the door even wider for e-learning.

With still so many uncertainties about the pandemic, people are more likely to embrace the strengths of e-learning. Being able to reach greater audiences, lower costs, the option to commercialise training courses, while also providing an engaging, interactive, and immersive learning experience for learners are undeniable advantages.

Organisations overwhelmed by the prospect of migrating online don’t need to do it alone. Working with an e-learning service provider like Wahoo can assist with the migration by providing support to them and their learners. Feel free to get in touch so we can discuss how your organisation’s training could adapt to these challenging times.

Written by Lloyd Smith

Lloyd is the Managing Director of Wahoo Learning. He has a passion for the learning technology industry, particularly the latest innovations and technologies.

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