The global pandemic has caused monumental shifts in behavior across many industries. One of the most impacted is education, at all levels of the learning tree. From pre-kindergarten through executive education, people were forced into a different model of learning. Not an easy transition for some, it brought the value of online learning into focus as a way to continue education without a break. For early adopters, who had already developed capabilities in teaching and learning in an online environment, it was business as usual.
Prior to the Covid-19 epidemic, there was already a perceptible shift towards more online learning opportunities, especially for adult learners. The technological infrastructure was in place, with learning platforms like Canvas, Blackboard, and Google Classroom facilitating a modern generation of online learning. More than 50,000 working professionals from over 70 countries have accessed close to 4,000 live online teaching events with Emeritus in the last four years. In collaboration with top universities such as MIT Sloan, Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg, UC Berkeley, London Business School, and others, Emeritus uses technology and curriculum innovation to offer online certificate and diploma courses. Among the most popular topics for learners are digital marketing, data science, business analytics, and AI/machine learning, delivering the hard skills that employers are seeking in order to stay competitive.
The epidemic expedited a massive shift to online learning out of necessity, pushing it to a whole new scale – and a new level of acceptance among adult learners and employers alike. In view of the accelerated changes and adoption of online learning, Emeritus and its partner universities wanted to know how the motivations of adult learners for advancing their professional development (in all its various forms) are being affected by recent global events. We sought a truly global perspective and surveyed respondents from 13 different countries who, as a baseline, are interested in pursuing some type of further education in the next 12 months. Based on 1,560 responses, we garnered some very interesting insights into the future of online learning.
Emeritus research shows that the majority of professionals – 80% – ranging from age 21-65 across the globe believe that online learning adoption will increase in the near term, and 77% of respondents across nine countries would consider a fully online or hybrid approach to learning.
Three Key Takeaways:
Overall, interest in pursuing further education has increased due to current global events and people believe their personal spend on education will increase in the near future. Education is seen as a means to ”future-proofing” against events similar to the current global pandemic. They also have more time now to dedicate to education and many people are interested in continuing to work remotely, giving them more time to pursue education.
Top-3 Markets for Increasing Personal Spend on Education
It is believed that online learning adoption is going to increase, not only in the short term: it is here to stay. In the short term, fear of the disease, governmental restrictions, and social distancing measures, make online learning the only option. However, in the long run, based on their current experience with remote work and remote learning, people will acclimate and learn to appreciate its benefits. Many respondents are seeing their quality of life improve by telecommuting in general.
Claim their interest in
pursuing further education
expect their personal spend
on education to increase
in the next 6 months
believe online learning
adoption will increase
in the near future
Respondents were screened based on whether they intend to pursue any type of further education in the next 12 months or not. For those who intend to pursue some form of further education in the short term, more than three-quarters of participants will consider either a hybrid or 100% online approach to education.
Free offers are popular, but so are paid alternatives: 76% of those who consider a free option also consider a paid provider. Shorter formats, such as mini courses, short courses, and bootcamps – with a focus on immediate application of skills – are more often considered than longer formats.
either a hybrid or online
Early players in the education technology space set the stage for improving access to knowledge. Early entrants from the university landscape include MIT and Harvard, who make their content available for free or low cost. For those individuals who are highly motivated to learn, the content is out there, often for free or at a low cost. However, completion rates for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) register at just 3% based on findings from researchers at MIT based on edX course data, meaning that most do not finish a course to completion for a variety of factors.
Other online learning opportunities cost more money, and not surprisingly, have a much higher rate of completion – since students are invested financially in the outcome. Many adult learners who seek career advancement desire a certificate of completion from a top school to illustrate their dedication to learning new skills.
According to Shaun Dubash, Director of Online Certificate Programs at Emeritus, these events will compel even the top universities to think carefully about their online strategy, expanding beyond just non-credit MOOCs, to perhaps their credit-bearing certificates and some degree programs.
“The current crisis is accelerating this thought process and moving them to be more serious about going online. Not only is this a critical business continuity measure, but as schools struggle to maintain international student enrolment in residence, online options offer an alternative way to reach students who may be increasingly unwilling – or unable – to relocate to access top-quality education.”
As more people flock to online learning – some out of necessity, and others because it’s an opportunity to upskill due to more time on their hands – here are some best practices from our learning approach that have worked well to drive lasting impact for learners.
Learners want to come out of a program with skills relevant for future work and for that the learning design has to focus on outcomes. Some examples of how Emeritus collaborates with globally renowned faculty to ensure this:
This application-based exercise prepares the participant with the expert move required to handle any objection that comes their way in the sales process. Objections are a natural and necessary part of any sale. Salespeople who display poise and empathy during objection handling truly set themselves apart.
Participants use the five-step objection handling process and learn:
This program provides managers and leaders an understanding of how analytics can help improve their decision-making process.
This program will help you look at data and identify insights, improve your ability to make predictions, and prescribe future actions to help make better business decisions. The data analytics simulation provides an opportunity to apply data analytics concepts to a real-world scenario.View Full Research Report
As the world tries to break free from the grip of the Covid-19 crisis, our research shows that many professionals are willing to embrace the new way of learning and working, as they see many benefits to their lives, both personally and professionally. For example, they report:
If there was a stigma around online learning – that it was either boring or ineffective – there is now enough evidence to prove otherwise. Behavior shifts are often a social phenomenon and people change in groups. With the accelerated change that this pandemic has set off, we believe online learning has reached its tipping point and become mainstream.
Download the full report to read country-wise findings on 'Top five motivators to pursue higher learning'
*Bonus Content: Examples of impactful online learning from world-renowned universities
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