Originally posted on https://elearningindustry.com/top-elearning-statistics-2019
The eLearning industry continues to expand, offering an ever-increasing array of eLearning tools to companies, government bodies, and individuals. The reach of eLearning today is greater than ever with the most rapid growth in emerging economies trying to close the education gap. The combination of low cost, high convenience, and accessibility are transforming eLearning into the predominant global educating force of the 21st century. While it won’t come as any surprise that the eLearning industry is growing and changing, the precise nature of that change can be difficult to perceive without the aid of some hard data. In this article, we’re going to take a look at 20 of the top eLearning statistics of 2019 and unpack what they mean for the future.
The global eLearning market was worth an impressive $107 billion in 2015 . By 2025, however, Research and Markets believe that it will reach a staggering total market value of $325 billion . The reasons for this explosion in value come on the back of several main drivers: the need to educate vast numbers of people at low cost, the falling price of learning solutions, the needs of the modern workforce to engage in life-long learning, and the fact that learning through an internet portal is often more convenient than going to school. The majority of the growth in the eLearning market will come from demand in developing countries. eLearning provides developing country audiences with access to world-class educational resources which may not be available in-person in their home country.
The self-paced eLearning market, unlike the wider eLearning industry, is going through a period of secular decline and is expected to see its total revenues fall by 6.1% per year until 2021 . The reason for the decline has to do with shifts in the industry. Self-paced eLearning solutions were first set up by MOOC platforms as a way to provide their customers with additional flexibility. However, the industry, especially in North America, is moving away from this modality. Self-paced learning sounds like a good idea in theory, but eLearning providers have found that, in general, it’s not particularly useful. Most people don’t complete their courses. eLearning providers are, therefore, experimenting with new methods to keep people engaged and learning.
The percentage of US companies using online learning hit 77% in 2017 , the latest year for which figures are available. The reasons for this boil down to the growing realization of just how impactful eLearning has become. One of the main reasons US companies are so keen on eLearning is its ability to speed up employee training. In 2017, the Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook Survey found that eLearning could reduce employee training time by as much as 40-60% . Cutting training time means that workers can spend more time doing their primary role and companies don’t need to organize as much cover. Research also suggests that eLearning may be an excellent way for firms to consolidate their training. Figures from Brandon Hall suggest that eLearning may boost knowledge retention by an impressive 25-60% . eLearning has become something of a must-have for US corporations (as well as for companies globally). The fact that you can so easily incorporate eLearning into modern workflows makes it appealing, but it goes beyond that. eLearning appears to offer firms benefits that they can’t get through traditional training routes. Employees are much more likely to remember what they’ve learned and can better apply it after an eLearning experience.
Deloitte, a professional services and research company, estimates that the average employee needs to dedicate around 1% of their time per week to training. Doing this, according to Deloitte, enables the worker to stay up to date with best practices and developments in their industry. 1% of the working week isn’t much time at all. It translates to 24 minutes per week or 4.8 minutes per day, assuming a 5-day working week . Arranging 4.8 minutes of training per day face-to-face would be impractical. But thanks to “microlearning”— a popular buzzword in the eLearning industry—companies can now take this approach. What’s more, microlearning may be even more effective than regular learning because people are better at absorbing lots of small chunks of information than they are a few larger ones. You can imagine a worker sitting down at their desk in the morning, taking a five-minute eLearning class, and then carrying on with the rest of their work for the day.
The notion that a training program could lead to a threefold increase in the revenue per employee seems a little far-fetched. But this is no idle finding, it’s the conclusion of the American Society for Training and Development after a study of more than 2,500 firms . It was a serious study. Companies that offered comprehensive training across a range of subjects experienced dramatically improved revenues compared to those that didn’t. And it wasn’t just revenues that were higher either. Data suggests that when employers spend $1,500 per employee per year on training, they achieve improvements in profit margins of around 24% . Furthermore, for every additional $680 a company spends, shareholder return rises by 6%. Investing in the knowledge capital of a company, therefore, is just as important as investing in the physical capital .
Traditionally, companies have been reluctant to train their employees. Most managers know that investing in people yields positive returns, but few are aware of the fact that eLearning affects both the numerator and the denominator of the calculation of the performance. eLearning is more effective than most managers believe at boosting the revenue or profit per employee (the numerator) and it’s also less costly than commonly perceived (the denominator), increasing the total return per unit spent. This can be accomplished easily if the company opts for a value for money LMS.
It should come as no surprise that eLearning is a far greener and more efficient method of training than face-to-face. Figures from an Open University study suggest that eLearning cuts energy consumption by 90% and slashes CO2 by more than 85% . eLearning courses are, therefore, an essential pillar in the global fight against climate change. The world needs a new generation of people with the intellectual and educational capacities to take on the challenges of tomorrow. Building that capacity takes energy, but it could be a lot less if there’s greater use of eLearning courses, especially among educational institutions and companies. Cutting carbon dioxide emissions is a priority for companies and educational institutions. Companies, in particular, need to protect the environment to make sure that they have a functioning, wealthy customer base to buy their products in decades to come. Climate change puts that at risk.
Productivity isn’t just crucial to company bottom lines—it’s vital for our economy as a whole. The higher it is, the more output that each person can generate using a given amount of input—something that ultimately drives higher living standards. If the product is software and the input is programmer time, then higher productivity would mean writing more software for a given amount of programmer time. IBM found that even though eLearning was costly, it led to substantial improvements in productivity. For every dollar spent, the company claims that it saw $30 in increased productivity . It wasn’t just a function of workers being able to return to their desks faster, either. IBM showed that productivity gains came from the ability of employees to apply their newly acquired skills straight away. It’s important to be able to apply newly-learned skills quickly in any role.
Since 2000, revenues in the eLearning industry have grown by more than 900% . And, as discussed, the trend isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, with the industry expected to nearly triple in size by the year 2025 . The reasons why eLearning is growing so fast require a little unpacking. The first reason is standardization. Companies need standardization to ensure consistent quality across their organizations. Staff in one location should be trained on the same material and in the same way as staff in another location, especially regarding matters of company policy. Standardization of practices is easy when you have a single eLearning product accessible from any location through the cloud. Companies can synchronize training across multiple offices from a central hub, without having to rely on a variety of different instructors from the local region to deliver courses. With eLearning, there’s no risk of two different sets of employees receiving different instructions. The second reason is the fact that participation is mandatory.
To complete an eLearning course, you must interact with it and complete the work. Mandatory participation distinguishes eLearning from traditional face-to-face approaches. The introverts in your organization (or the flat out lazy) might not want to take part in group discussions or question-and-answer sessions. eLearning takes the social pressure out of learning and empowers people with particular personalities to get the most out of training. Thirdly, there’s freedom to fail. eLearning doesn’t punish employees or publicly humiliate them if they don’t know the answer to a question or can’t solve a problem. Instead, it takes weak points into account and adapts to the learner’s needs. eLearning provides a safe environment for people to experiment with what they know, without the fear of ridicule.
Given what we’ve discussed so far, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 72% of organizations believe that eLearning puts them at a competitive advantage . eLearning is a flexible tool that firms can use to provide them with educational support when they need it. Keeping employees apprised of changes in the market is a significant challenge for many enterprises. Modern business practices move rapidly, and sometimes it’s difficult for employees to keep up. Firms, therefore, need ways of quickly plugging knowledge gaps, as and when they occur. Managers need flexible training resources that they can use to help employees get their heads around new material or working practices. Companies that can develop their employees in real-time achieve a competitive edge over their rivals.
Data from a Gallup poll in 2015 found that only 32% of employees in the US were “engaged” and that more than 51% were “unengaged” . The definition of what it means to be engaged in one’s job is a little slippery, but mostly it means that the employee is fully absorbed in what they’re doing and will go out of their way to further the interests of the organization for which they work. Unengaged employees do not feel connected to their firm and may often say and do things that run counter to its objectives. Unengaged employees are much more likely to suffer from burnout and general malaise while at work. Unengaged employees are also a substantial drag on the productivity of the firm. Not only are they less committed to the work they do, but they also harm the team as a whole, reducing morale. Low morale can mean that your team gets much less done than they otherwise could. eLearning, however, may help. According to data from The Molly Fletcher Company, eLearning helps firms achieve an 18% boost in employee engagement leading to higher productivity and customer satisfaction . Companies that provide employees with training opportunities open up the possibility of career progression and, at the very least, give them interesting cognitive tasks to break up the monotony of the day.
Companies are sometimes reluctant to train their workers because of the perceived negative impact that it will have on their earnings per share. But the data does not bear this out. Actively engaged workforces deliver 2.6 times the earnings-per-share growth of their unengaged counterparts . The effect of human capital in firms is real. Making shareholders aware of the value of training remains an important objective of company management. Senior executives need to make the case that the more they invest in education, the higher rewards for everyone in the organization, not just employees who could take their skills elsewhere. eLearning also delivers higher levels of overall worker satisfaction. The performance of organizations increases when their employees feel happy.
The US government is partly responsible for the dramatic uptick we’ve seen in the consumption of eLearning products over the past two decades. At the last count, the US government spent more than $2.59 billion on self-paced eLearning products for its staff and administrators—a considerable sum of money . You wouldn’t expect an agency like the US government to be up to date with the latest online learning technologies, but it is. The government is looking for ways to scale up its education efforts for its workforce while keeping costs as low as possible. It needs a flexible learning platform to provide value for money to taxpayers. Just like the rest of the self-paced eLearning market, the demand from the government is expected to decline over the coming few years as newer, sexier methods come to the fore. Figures suggest that total government spending will fall to $2.035 billion by 2021 . However, it is likely to remain an essential part of the mix, and the government will likely shift its budget over to new forms of training that work even more effectively. 65% of millennials in the US chose their job because of training opportunities .
Millennials are now the largest segment of the workforce, replacing baby boomers who are entering retirement. And if there’s one thing that’s clear from the data, it’s that this generation wants meaningful careers more than any other before it. In the past, a job was a means to an end—it was something that you did to provide for your family. Today, work is something very different. For many millennials, it’s their raison d’etre—their reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Training is an essential part of one’s career and vital for progression and so it’s also something that millennials look for when they take a new job. Millennials want to work where they can progress and, ultimately, achieve mastery in their chosen field. eLearning, therefore, is the perfect way for firms to attract talent. By offering courses, companies can promise recruits the opportunity to hone their skills and build the expertise that they’ll need for more lucrative positions in the future. Finding talented people is a significant challenge for many firms, and so by offering a range of courses firms may attract the precise people they want.
While the first computerized training courses were developed in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the advent of the internet that the eLearning industry took off. One of the pioneers in the space was the Open University, which wanted to find ways of using the World Wide Web and computers to provide remote learning experiences. The Open University imagined a world in which you could craft learning experiences in software (tailored to your specific needs) and then sell them over the internet for a fee. However, early attempts mostly fell flat because most of their customers didn’t have home computers. By the 1980s, Apple had released the Mac and PCs were finally finding their way into homes and company offices. Suddenly, there was an opportunity to use computers to deliver training materials. By the late 1990s, some companies and educational institutions were offering courses online, and the modern era of eLearning had begun. Distance learning suddenly became a real possibility thanks to the radical cost declines that internet-enabled learning delivered. The 2000s saw an explosion in companies using eLearning to train their employees. Suddenly, firms were able to provide onboarding courses for new employees and provide top-ups for those who had been with the firm for a lot longer, all at low cost. Employees could take their training home with them or do it at the office. eLearning gave both managers and employees much-needed flexibility.
The traditional model of education has been with us for a long time. Students line up in rows and then listen to what a teacher or a lecturer has to say before going away and working on related problem sets. But throughout educational history, movers and shakers in the space have tried to disrupt this traditional model and develop something new. Increasingly, traditional educational establishments are embracing the wave of innovative change that we’ve seen since the turn of the 21st century. Figures from Statista suggest that more than 65% of faculty support the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), such as eLearning courses . Many more also support cutting-edge instructional methods. 39%, for instance, support gamification . Support for MOOCs has been more muted. 37% of faculty said that they supported Massive Online Open Courses, but again MOOCs have not had the widespread impact that many technologists predicted a decade ago.
The US college dropout rate currently stands at somewhere between 50% and 60%, depending on which figures you believe . College students, therefore, are keen to find anything that might help them make it through their four-year course and complete it on time. 43% have turned to digital learning technologies, including eLearning, to provide them with assistance. eLearning technologies not only help to compartmentalize learning into manageable chunks, but they also deliver a better learning experience than simply reading out of a book.
eLearning material challenges students and continually tests their knowledge to ensure that they progress logically. All too often, students will understand more advanced concepts before mastering more basic, undermining their capacity to solve problems in the exam. eLearning comes with other benefits for students too, which may explain why it is seen as so helpful. Some students, for instance, will benefit from the fact that they can listen to lectures as many times as they need, others will find the delivery on eLearning courses to be higher than the face-to-face equivalent at an educational establishment. The ability to pause and rewind to ensure understanding is not possible in traditional learning settings. Finally, eLearning courses may present material in a way that the student perceives as being friendlier, encouraging more relaxed and open learning, rather than panicked cramming.
The old image of eLearning where a student or employee sits at a computer terminal clicking boxes is slowly fading away. It’s being replaced by a new, highly mobile model where learners can take courses in whatever subjects they like, no matter where they happen to be at the time. This trend is being made possible by the proliferation of mobile devices and well-designed, interactive learning environments. Today, more than 67% of organizations said that they offer mobile learning of one kind or another , with 99% of mobile users believing that mobile learning enhances their experience . The mobile learning market is expected to continue to expand, reaching $37.6 billion by 2020—a substantial chunk of the overall market .
The share of global students who have participated in an online course of one kind or another has exploded over the current decade. During the most recent survey period, more than 49% of students said that they had taken part in some form of eLearning activity in the last 12 months , up from 46% in 2013 . The growth of student numbers is a function of the low cost and ease of use of the majority of eLearning courses currently available online. Institutions, like schools and universities, deliver the majority of their lessons in person. But, they recognize the need to supplement their courses with eLearning options, especially in fields that are outside their area of expertise. eLearning makes it possible to enhance any areas that are currently lacking in support quickly. Projections suggest that the number of students using eLearning in a 12-month period will continue to rise, though not as rapidly as before. eLearning will continue to play an essential role for active students currently in the mainstream university and school system.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were supposed to be an educational revolution. The entrepreneurs behind the movement believed that MOOCs would provide a world-class education to anyone, anywhere in the world, all at a surprisingly low cost. But while MOOC initiatives have been less successful than many believed that they would be, the reason doesn’t have so much to do with the products themselves, but rather it is because the people who stand to benefit most don’t know about them. According to Statista, 73% of students don’t know what a MOOC is , and a further 17% know what a MOOC is but haven’t taken one . Only 5% of students surveyed completed a MOOC , even though 9% had taken one in the year of the survey . Part of the explanation for the lack of awareness comes down to the absence of effective marketing. MOOC providers need to give compelling reasons for people to take their courses to attract people. Examples of students taking MOOCs and then going on to enter their career of choice would be a good start.
The notion that eLearning is a powerful learning tool is not widely contested. Most companies and educational establishments accept that it has a role to play. But what is less understood is just how powerful eLearning can be as an intervention. IBM is famous for its implementation of eLearning courses at its headquarters and across its global workforce. eLearning makes a lot of sense for a company like IBM that has to continually update and upskill its employees to deal with changes in the marketplace and technology. The company wanted to find out whether it was spending its money wisely or whether it should return to more traditional styles of training, such as face-to-face. To the shock of company execs, IBM found that those enrolled in eLearning courses learned more than five times as much material compared to traditional lessons, allowing the company to make significant cost savings . The reason for the success of eLearning appears to stem from how it presents materials. eLearners consume information in smaller, more digestible chunks, making it easier to consign things to memory and understand how concepts interact with each other. IBM employees could get back to their work faster, saving the computing giant money.
So, in summary, what have we learned? We’ve discovered that the eLearning industry is growing fast and will continue to expand substantially over the coming years. eLearning is not only popular in the private sector and educational establishments, but the government too. It’s greener than traditional modes of education and is an excellent way for companies who want to attract and retain talent and offer affordable training. And it provides a scalable platform that organizations can use to deliver consistent training across the globe. eLearning is, therefore, a trend for the future and something that you’ll want to watch closely throughout the remainder of 2019 and beyond.
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