Online learning is no longer a “new” thing. It’s expected. It’s the first route to personal and professional education for people around the world, and in the United States, more than one in four college students take at least one online course. In total, half of all college students take all of their classes online.
This data comes from the 2015 Survey of Online Learning Report by Babson Survey Research Group that was released earlier this year. Year over year, online learning among college students increased by 4% between 2014 and 2015, but the increase among professionals and companies was even greater. In fact, the compound growth rate for the global e learning industry was 10% over the past five years.
Specifically, the global self-paced elearning industry generated revenues of $32.1 billion in 2010 according to a study by Ambient Insight. Fast forward to 2015, and the industry generated revenues of $49.9 billion with the total global elearning market generating $107 billion! Clearly, people are not only comfortable with online learning but they’re choosing it often.
Online Learning’s Ongoing Popularity in the Professional Market
It’s the professional market where online learning is expected to continue to grow the most rapidly in the coming years. Despite it’s existing popularity (77% of U.S. companies offer online corporate training to employees), there is room for growth.
Consulting company Roland and Berger released a study in 2014 that reported the online corporate market for elearning products and services is expected to grow by 13% each year through 2017.
Companies of all sizes are using online learning. The 2014 Training Industry Report from Training Magazine found that in 2014, large companies were more likely to use self-paced online or computer-led training (36%) than small (16.6%) or mid-sized (12.4%) companies, but large companies weren’t the only ones planning to invest in online learning during the following year.
In 2015, 49.1% of small, mid-sized, and large companies reported that they planned to purchase some kind of online and/or mobile learning tools and systems. That means one out of two companies invested in online learning in 2015!
Online Learning is the Norm in 2016
Add on all of the individuals who take online courses for self-improvement to the corporate numbers, and it’s clear that online learning is no longer “the way people will learn in the future.” It’s the way they’re learning right now. For many people, online learning has become the preferred method of learning.
Today, learning truly is an anywhere, anytime activity. It provides the flexibility and convenience that students of all ages want combined with the “always on” way that they conduct their lives in 2016 thanks to the use of mobile devices and apps to manage all aspects of learning.
Growth rates have slowed as the market becomes more mature — it seems like everyone has either taken some type of online course already or knows someone who has. However, there are still opportunities for more people to discover online learning.
Furthermore, as more and more independent experts in a wide variety of industries begin leveraging online learning tools to deliver courses to global students, the industry will likely see another big jump in consumers (i.e., students) and revenues.