What are e-learning platforms?

E-learning and e-learning platforms have seen a significant increase over the past decade. Especially since the pandemic, they have assumed a key role in people’s lives. Research forecasts suggest that the online education market would be as big as $350 billion by 2025.

An E-learning platform involves using information and communication technologies and internet resources to produce educational content for teachers and learners. This can range from online classes and distance learning to virtual classrooms and online discussion forums, among several other forms and formats. They are used in various settings such as schools, colleges, the corporate sector, etc., and have several advantages, especially for students.

E-learning revolution: The Upside

These platforms offer individualized attention for learners as compared to conventional classrooms. In addition, they provide the scope for addressing the challenges different learners face through innovative techniques and technology.

A country like India faces an enormous challenge when it comes to educating its 320 million learners. E-learning platforms and tools can help address this gigantic challenge by reaching out to many students and learners with the help of technology. They overcome the limitations of traditional classroom size and can use technology to address our country’s skewed teacher-to-student ratio.

The e-learning revolution has been at the forefront of improving the quality of education. Using videos, visual aids, and other innovative means, e-learning platforms have emphasized concept-based learning rather than focussing on rote memorization. Thus pedagogic techniques employed by e-learning platforms can supplement conventional learning methods.

By overcoming geographical barriers, e-learning platforms also promote equitable access to education. Moreover, with over 500 million smartphone users in India, there is a huge scope of expansion for e-learning platforms, thus improving access to education.

Pandemic Effect

The pandemic has accelerated the e-learning boom. As the World Economic Forum report suggests, millions of children worldwide have had to adapt to new learning platforms. India, too has witnessed an e-learning boom during the pandemic, thereby transforming the education sector. As per an Economic Times report, online education in India for classes 1-12 is projected to create a $1.7 billion market.

Social distancing norms and lockdowns, along with a spike in the number of covid cases, meant that schools and colleges had to shut down. E-learning platforms and online learning became a necessity during the pandemic. While educational institutions faced problems in implementing online teaching, these were addressed through a host of measures. These measures ranged from pre-recording lectures and having a backup plan to taking extensive feedback from students and effective strategies for giving online instructions by educators. Effective implementation of e-learning platforms also requires course instructors and educators to be specifically trained for remote teaching. UNESCO, for example, has compiled a list of resources to strengthen the capacities of students and educators.

Industry of the Future

E-learning has shown great potential in terms of catering to users of different verticals. The emergence of new e-learning platforms has also produced better learning tools and better teaching strategies. As a result, it is transforming not only school education but also higher education. For example, Ivy League universities like Stanford and Harvard offer their online courses in fields as diverse as art history, personality development, mathematics, and communication.

From an infrastructure perspective, e-learning platforms and tools save many costs while delivering quality content. They can also provide a more holistic educational experience to students along with conventional classrooms. In addition, E-learning platforms can help nurture the next generation of influencers, problems solvers, and new-age innovators. More importantly, due to the consequences of the pandemic, the e-learning industry is expected to grow 8-10 times in the next 5 years. With its exponential rise and growth, this engaging and interactive medium for imparting education not only caters to the needs of the present but is, in fact, the industry of the future.

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