What’s the long-term future for online learning as we emerge from the pandemic?

Shaw Academy has experienced huge demand for their online learning, offering more than 100 courses and welcoming students from all around the world.

Much has been said about the enforced shift to online education for schools and universities due to the pandemic. As we begin to emerge from the worst of COVID-19, what do all these changes mean for the future of education?

Of course, it’s not just school and college students who have switched to online learning. At Shaw Academy, we’ve seen our student enrolments shoot up since COVID-19 hit. And even before the pandemic, numbers were growing as millions more people take advantage of the flexibility and relative affordability of eLearning.

Online learning trends for the future – Shaw Academy’s view

A recent survey by Shaw Academy showed that registrations were up by 582% during 2020 as more people turn to online learning. We live in the digital age and the data reflects this, with social media topping the list of the most popular courses, followed by photography and baking.

Online learning platforms like Shaw Academy have grown out of this demand for at-home online learning. Offering an extension of self-learning in a more formalised way, with relatively much cheaper and more flexible courses than formal institutions.

Can online learning match formal education?

Due to the pandemic, we’ve seen that online learning now plays a vital role in education. The flexibility, accessibility and ease of use that it offers thanks to modern technology opens up education to anyone, anywhere.

That’s the beauty of online learning. We welcome students from all around the world and from all kinds of backgrounds. Some are looking to enhance their current job role, while others are training for a brand-new career or to start their own business. The flexibility of twice-weekly lectures in the form of live webinars that can be watched back at any time works for everyone, regardless of other commitments.

It’s not just students at school or university who were existing learners before the pandemic who have been taking up online learning. Since the first lockdown in the UK there has been a huge increase in people looking for online education opportunities.

Fundamental changes to education sector due to the pandemic

COVID-19 has forced the whole world to rethink how they live and work. And while many of the measures put in place regarding work and education may be temporary, an equal number are likely to be here to stay. Such short-term changes within education are inevitably going to change the entire landscape of the sector going forward.

Technology plays a major part in the changes we will see within education over the next few years. There is a stark difference between accessible high speed Internet access between the developed world and emerging economies. These issues are now being addressed due to the impact of the pandemic and the obvious urgency underlying the need to get everyone online.

Aside from the tech infrastructure, there are many exciting developments that will be applied to online learning. For example, it’s likely that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will be incorporated as standard features by 2030.

Shaw Academy believe there will also be developments in the kinds of subjects that people want to study. A growing interest and understanding that coding, IT, programming and design will be in demand is reflected in the number of people who want to study emerging technology.

Furthermore, the development and improvement in online learning is a great leveller. With accessible, deliverable, and flexible education available online, digital learning becomes accessible for people who live with disabilities.