E-Learning: The Next Wave

How has e-learning evolved over the years?

Convenience and mobility, learning at one’s own pace, round-the-clock availability and access to a global marketplace of education opportunities – the attractiveness of e-learning is apparent.

E-Learning is hardly new to Continuing Education and Training (CET). What’s really changing the game is the fact that Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become impressively pervasive globally in recent years, which enables a world of new possibilities in e-learning.

One big sign that education technology (EdTech) is going places is the amount of attention EdTech companies are attracting from investors and tech watchers. The global e-learning market is currently estimated to be worth more than US$40 billion.

In 2014, EdTech startups collectively clinched over US$2 billion worth of investments globally, with half of it going to e-learning companies. There is also increasing attention on adult learning and continuing education, as opposed to primary and secondary education. For instance, US-based e-learning platform lynda.com for professionals has just managed to raise US$289 million in funds.

On home ground, e-learning in the CET industry is fast picking up pace. More EdTech startups like Coursepad, which gamifies e-learning, are emerging. EdTech conferences such as LEARNTech Asia, Bett Asia and the upcoming eLearning Forum Asia hosted by SIM University (UniSIM) are now regular, well-attended events.

Which is hardly surprising given the insights from Google’s Consumer Barometer released last year. Singaporeans own an average of 3.3 devices each. Singapore also has the highest smartphone penetration in the world at 85%. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they watch online videos primarily for inspiration. The fact that our population is so connected makes us ripe for adopting e-learning.

Such learning trends are only going to intensify, especially given Singapore’s vision to be a Smart Nation, launched in November 2014. The rise of intelligent solutions to bettering lives and society will call for innovation in all areas, learning included. e-Learning with its ability to significantly increase efficiency and accessibility of learning will play a strong role in revolutionising education as we know it.

The conditions for a flourishing e-learning landscape in Singapore are clearly set.

When you think about it, the case for wider adoption of e-learning is persuasive. Environmental factors are in favour – just take Singapore’s extensive ICT infrastructure, high smartphone and gadget penetration, and the business potential of e-learning services and products in the light of global and regional trends.

For both trainers and learners, e-learning promises significant benefits. Rote learning will no longer do in the near future. What this means is that we now live in exciting times with a new world of possibilities in adult education. It is time for the CET community to harness technology, creatively and innovatively, to transfer and build skills in an age where learning is no longer bound to the classroom. 

This article first appeared in IALeads (April 2015 issue), an e-magazine from the Institute for Adult Learning.

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