If you asked someone 20 years ago if it was going to be possible to learn a language without ever owning any learning material at all or attending any kind of class they would have laughed or just thought you were a bit odd. However, the rise of a number of different areas of technology have created the perfect platform for anyone to learn almost anything without leaving their home…or by leaving their home and learning on the bus, train or plain. Online learning may seem obvious and it may not seem like much of a game changer but it really is and it will play a massive role in future learning, business and prosperity.
Exiting Computer Technology
So it is pretty obvious that learning online involves video for the most part. While podcasts can be useful there is no substitute for a video lesson. However the software and hardware improvements over the last 10 or even 5 years have really sewn the seed for a learning revolution. From the beginning of YouTube to the introduction of 4G, low data costs and more we are now able to consume lessons anywhere and anytime. Even the introduction of wireless headphones and noise cancelling tech have served to increase the efficacy of online learning. It wasn’t that long ago people were sitting at a desktop waiting for videos to buffer only to have shut it down while someone used the phone. The computer advances and the speed of the kit people have at their disposal have changed the game for entertainment and that has been clear for a while but it is online learning that will bring us a deeper change.
Who is winning in Online Learning?
There are a lot of different providers and platforms. Certainly for many people the first step is to head to YouTube and search for a lesson on something. But that is an unregulated environment and as it gets ever busier it is clear many people are offering lessons with little or no knowledge. There is another type platform people are turning too and that is dedicated online platforms like www.perfectlyspoken.com where the online English lessons are run on an internal system and people sign up rather than just drop in and out. This type of choice is becoming more popular because these websites have full courses rather than ad hoc videos. But these are specific sites and there is a growing desire for a multi subject platform and www.udemy.com seems to be taking advantage of this. They have created essentially an online school where you can learn anything you want. Whilst this is a paid for model rather than free like the other mentioned it potentially offers people the chance to learn for fun, for work, for school….all in one place.
Where Will Online Learning Take Us?
No one can predict the future but it is safe to say online learning is not going anywhere. There are two main reasons for this.
1. With the traditional career becoming more and more outdated people are choosing to switch jobs, work types and sectors much more often. To do this they need to have some way in and that means some kind of knowledge or qualification. Rather than the daunting prospect of returning to traditional education people are now able to turn to online learning and get qualified in the evenings, on the train and weekends. Essentially this means most people could quietly re train and move jobs with very little hassle and certainly not the costs involved in traditional education.
2. With University fees and debts reaching higher and higher levels and the cost of living rising for many the idea of a degree, or even a lower qualification through a collage is simply not affordable. People want the knowledge but there is a paradigm shift in how they expect to get it.
Online learning is allowing creative business owners to use the technology invented for entertainment to educate and make a profit at the same time.
There is, of course, a downside to all of this. With more choice comes less regulation, bad deals, bad service and more. Where once a degree was only a degree from a red brick university it is now something that can be gained at a huge number of educational establishments. This can de value the product itself and as the market becomes more and more flooded with lessons and courses of all sorts how is any employer to work out the worth of the qualification on a CV? There is now answer to this but ultimately the flexibility and affordability of learning can only be a good thing for business and the wider economy.