Online learning

changing the face of education and training


Technology disrupts by its very nature. This is evident in many sectors where UBER, the biggest competitor to metered taxis - doesn’t own any vehicles. The hospitality industry has seen a shake-up with Airbnb becoming a massive competitor without owning any real estate in the hotel industry.

We are seeing the same trend in education. Start-up EdTech (Education Technology) companies are getting higher valuations then traditional classroom-based colleges and schools:

  • In 2017 we saw the acquisition of a South Africa-based online education provider by a US-based education technology company for US$103 million (R1.466 billion). If you consider that the education provider doesn’t own a single classroom it becomes a staggering paradigm. 
  • In February 2018, it was announced that an online education start-up in the US, specialising in offering hi-tech subjects to students online, received a US$1 billion valuation (R14 billion).

So why is online learning growing so fast?

The answer is simple: it’s the ability for educational companies to scale using technology-based platforms called learner management systems (LMS).

Classroom-based learning presents logistical challenges and a higher cost per unit for delivery. Typically, we refer to this as the “bums in seats” model. Online learning simply requires a device (smart phone, tablet or laptop) and Internet connectivity.

Can you study as effectively online as in a classroom? 

The answer to that question changes as technology evolves. A lecture delivered in a classroom has a see-and-touch aspect to it that is missed with online lecture videos. However the benefits of online lectures videos are misunderstood. Every Individual has a unique way of absorbing information. Many studies have proven this. Learning paths and the absorption of information are specific to each person.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest benefits of an online lecture, as opposed to a contact learning lecture, is the ability to DO four things that can’t be done in person: pause, rewind, fast forward and replay. This allows a student to be in control in terms of how they absorb content. For this reason, we can understand why online learning is disrupting the traditions of classroom-based learning. 

Devices and connectivity are essential tools for embarking on an online course

These resources are becoming main stream as we see an exponential growth curve of Internet connectivity and devices (particularly smartphones) specifically in rural areas and third-world countries. This expands the potential of education providers to reach an emerging student market across the world.

As we follow the upward trend of online learning it is fast adapting to smartphones.

Responsiveness, which is the ability for online content to render effectively and fit on the screen size of a mobile device, is key. The ability to deliver content on smartphones is essential. 

Content can be updated in real time thus allowing education providers the ability to keep up to date with their programmes and students. Assessing tools are evolving and an LMS system needs to incorporate a variety of assessing options to prepare a student thoroughly for the outcomes of their course. 

Online learning is growing exponentially. More and more people are understanding the benefits and buying into the proposition of studying online, anywhere, anytime and on any device. This disruption brings with it exciting new opportunities. 

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This edition

Issue 58