With access to education having been made much easier through eLearning, the marketplace is now mature and making greater strides. As connectivity as well as people’s aspirations increase, eLearning is set to witness a sharp rise too, both in terms of numbers as well as innovations. Pretty much whatever one wants to learn can be learned online. What began as a fairly rudimentary segment is now burgeoning. So where exactly do we see this growth spurt heading? There are, in my view, a few specific aspects of the eLearning experience that are set to undergo immense enhancement in the coming year.
TESTING & APTITUDE
Traditionally, when learners would come of a certain age, it would be time to make serious decisions regarding subjects choices, specializations, and academic paths. These decisions in the good old days were taken on the basis of a limited set of resources, chiefly led by parents’ suggestions, societal norms and set parameters of safe subjects & perceived good careers. At the most, a child’s school might have offered a ‘chat’ with an academic counsellor, or administer a basic Aptitude Test. Now, with the mass proliferation of various eLearning services, Aptitude Testing is thorough, scientific, well researched, and exhaustive. There are companies that have developed detailed algorithms and software based on them, that tests learners, identifying not only their core scholastic strengths and weaknesses, but also providing accurate insights and suggestions into categoric career choices, based on their academic as well as co-curricular, and personality parameters. Matching a holistic assessment of their overall aptitude with real world job options is the precise addition that eLearning platforms have brought to aptitude-testing, which has made it possible for onward generations to make infinitely more informed and robust decisions regarding subject and career choices going forward. This will only increase further in the years to come.
ALTERNATIVE COURSES – SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Another huge contribution of eLearning, which is set to be a strong trend in 2019, is the availability and access to Courses that aren’t necessarily considered mainstream. Typically subjects of areas of learning that one would potentially find hard to get instruction for, from a Skill such as Calligraphy to a Cooking Course for Korean Cuisine. While one might have had to be in a cosmopolitan, big urban centre to find instruction on these arguably esoteric fields of learning, thereby denying many learners an education in them; with eLearning now optioning an unimaginable array of online courses, learners can gain an education in pretty much anything they desire. However rare the skill they wish to develop, no matter how niche the program or the subject, chances are that there is an eLearning program for it. This has democratized learning and brought hitherto unapproachable subjects to the doorstep of any learner. In the years to come, this roster of ‘alternative’ courses available online will only increase.
THE BEST MENTORS
Was a time not too long ago when eLearning programs were viewed by a more traditional section of society as perhaps not being as authentic, legitimate and high-standard, as regular, real-world courses. The reasons for this perception might have been a number of factors, though I suspect a large part of it was because of this belief that the quality of instruction is not up to scratch. eLearning has addressed this ostensible shortcoming emphatically. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find the most brilliant and respected minds, professionals and leaders in their respective fields, serving as Mentors for a slew on online programs. Especially in the context of the arts, now one can take an eLearning course, let’s say in Film Direction, from an internationally acclaimed and award-winning Director as the primary mentor. Or a program in Film Editing, from a noted Hollywood Editor. The same applies to a vast array of subjects and disciplines. To have access to the absolute best professional talent has gone from being a possible deficit of eLearning to one of its greatest strengths. Students usually identify certain institutes as potentials places of excellence to study at after careful scrutiny on their faculty. Now, this world renowned faculty is on an online platform, a few clicks away. And this is yet another development that seems poised to grow immensely.
At a fundamental level, with learners’ attention spans diminishing and the ‘need’ for entertainment value in their education; eLearning platforms that employ generous video-lessons natural find favour with a new generation of students. Be it an Augmented Reality video directly related to domain knowledge, or a Demonstrative video related to skill development; eLearning has wholeheartedly embraced video-based instruction, and this has captured the minds and imaginations of young learners. While there is a belief that screen-time must be limited, and that screen-watching can potentially diminish one’s aptitude, there is no denying, the popularity and efficacy of video-based teaching and learning. This is yet another trend that will grow exponentially, with more and more teaching using video content as a vital tool to disseminate information and knowledge.
Perhaps the biggest benefaction of eLearning recently has been the ability to create tailor-made, specialized programs that target a very specific group of learners, curating a very definitive program. Today, eLearning platforms can curate and construct highly specialized programs perhaps much faster, and more importantly, much more efficiently than traditional brick and mortar institutions. While real-world institutions would need to have a certain critical mass of students interested in a particular program for it to be financially viable for the institute (what with having to create a department, hire faculty and other infrastructure etc); eLearning platforms are leaner, have lesser overheads and fixed costs, and are therefore able to offer a much more diverse range of programs, that, as mentioned above, can even be curated for a rather limited set of people/learners. This is a huge advantage eLearning has over traditional learning, and it will only grow further from here on out.
There are still the naysayers who would have you believe that the act of teaching and learning is an all-senses, interactive, kinaesthetic, in-person pursuit that ought to take place with real-world interaction between learner and teacher. Agreed, there is nothing better than actual interaction while learning. Be that as it may, the boundless opportunities and possibilities that eLearning provides are simply undeniable. It is here, and here to say.