The way we acquire knowledge is changing. Digital education or eLearning didn’t really exist a decade ago but is now 30% of the education market.

Over the next decade, eLearning is expected to grow 15 fold according to a report by IBIS Capital and the Edxus Group. ELearning is at the centre of an education revolution!

The reasons for this monumental shift are wide-ranging. But primarily, the world outside education has become increasingly digitalised as information production and flow has become one of the defining features of the global economy.

This digitalisation and the emergence of the information economy is aided by the Internet. The ability of the web to bring huge amounts of data to our finger tips anytime, anywhere has revolutionised the way we do business from retail and banking to learning.

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In her book The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Is Changing Our Lives, Frances Cairncross describes three great revolutions, the 19th century was dominated by the steamship and the railway which resulted in a transformation in the cost of transporting goods; the 20th century saw first the motor car and then the aeroplane, which rationalised the cost of transporting people; and the new century will be dominated by the transformation in the cost of transporting knowledge and ideas.

The old campus style education is creeking under the strain of increasing tuition fees and burgeoning student debt.

Universities have struggled to cut costs at a time of fiscal constraint and pressure to spend more on expanding physical infrastructure.

Even though young people know they need degrees and skills for their careers, they worry that the payoff is getting further and further away.

Slowly, Universities are accepting that eLearning ends the inequality of distance between learners  and far-off teachers. They too are embracing communications technology that replaces the idea we must be somewhere physically to learn like in a classroom.

As geographic barriers have fallen, a corresponding need has arisen for learners in all parts of the world to gain new previously unavailable knowledge so they can participate in a rapidly globalising economy.

Currently, companies are reporting difficulty attracting the right people to fill vacancies. This suggests a skills shortage on a global scale and means there is a gap between where people’s capabilities are and where the economy needs them to be in order to grow. ELearning allows global skills like IT, information systems and business administration to be adapted rapidly and accessed globally very quickly.

Meanwhile, campus based education requires learners to radically re-organise their lives to try to accommodate the demands of a rigid, inflexible learning schedule.

For many, this conflicts with the reality of daily life. This is especially the case in places where work often competes with family and community obligations leaving little room for taking time out for further education.

One of the criticisms of eLearning in the past was that online platforms are difficult for those unaccustomed to computers. But now, younger generations have adapted to the use of technology for learning because they grew up with it.

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As times change so too are the attitudes of learners. One study in Saudi Arabia asked students what they thought about digital learning and discovered that students felt eLearning was easy to use and useful. The study recommended the immediate expansion of eLearning in Saudi Arabia.

It is clear that traditional universities and learning establishments are struggling to keep up with the changing societies and economies they serve. Their struggle to meet the needs of today’s learners is transforming the way our children will learn. For those that have already chosen to complete an eLearning Course, this is a transformation that you are already living.

Source: aspIRe 15

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