Education in the 21st century has been shifting in line with technological advancements—be it through the implementation of virtual reality for medical students (UCSF, 2017) or through the use of interactive whiteboards for classrooms (Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises, 2018). On a simpler level, many schools also take advantage of elearning to keep up with the expectations of today’s predominantly digital native student population and the requirements of the increasingly tech-forward industry.
Elearning, also known as online learning and distance learning, allows students to gain access to their lessons anytime, anywhere. As such, it makes education readily available in difficult times, such as when crowd gathering is not allowed because of the global pandemic. Moreover, it lets them interact with their learning materials beyond books. That said, elearning lets learners make better sense of various subject matters through the use of videos, photos, and other media. As such, it is important to learn its ins and outs to be able to take advantage of it.
This article aims to discuss the different elearning statistics that are affecting the education sector. This compilation of statistics should serve as a good resource for educators and students alike as with the different elearning tools, implementation methods, benefits, and challenges. Moreover, this should give you a better idea of how fellow educators and students are leveraging elearning to their advantage.
Online courses continue to grow, especially in colleges and universities. According to the latest reports of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of enrollees in distance education courses rose even though the overall rate of college enrollment dropped (NCES, 2019). As you’ll see in the compiled statistics below, there are a lot of driving forces in the continuous growth of the elearning industries. These include the abundance of elearning technologies, centralized content, flexibility, convenience, and more.
And now that the world is in a state of global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for elearning platforms is expected to gain even more traction. Both new and established companies are entering the market. Online players are rethinking their offerings like providing a big discount to their online courses. Education technology, on the other hand, plays a pivotal role in converting textbooks into e-books.
The global elearning market is projected to reach $336.98 billion by 2026.
The compound annual growth rate of the elearning market from 2018 to 2026 is estimated to reach 9.1%.
The revenues of the elearning industry have grown by over 900% since 2000. However, it seems that it has not reached its peak yet because it is expected to triple by 2025.
In 2019, the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) market was valued at $5.16 billion. This figure is expected to reach as high as $21.14 billion by 2025.
77% of the elearning industry is comprised of self-paced learning models.
Self-paced elearning, however, is expected to hit a tough stride in the coming years as its value is projected to fall by 6.1% each year until 2021. Its estimated market value by then will only be about $33.5 billion.
LMS/SaaS models offer a standardized education system and make up over 29% of the total elearning market share.
In 2018, 35.3% of students in the United States are taking distance learning courses. This trend shows steady growth, following 31.8% and 33.5% of U.S. student shares in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
In 2018, 35.3% of U.S. students are enrolled in distance learning courses. 73% of them attend private for-profit schools while 30.4% attend private non-profit schools. Meanwhile, 34.1% of them are from public schools.
72% of educational institutions offer new online programs because of their employers’ demand. 71% of the schools, on the other hand, roll out new online courses because of their students’ demands.
Benefits of Elearning
The first computerized training programs were developed back in the 1960s (Nodine, T.R., 2016). However, it has gone unnoticed by most until the advent of the internet. Fast forward to today, elearning has become a widespread program throughout the world. As elearning hits a billion-dollar market value, more players have started getting into the fray. With the increasing competition between elearning providers, the benefits of elearning have also gone beyond convenience and expense-cutting.
For instance, with the staggering 40% dropout rate in U.S. colleges (Bustamante, J., 2019), elearning has become the tool of choice for many individuals who aim to pursue their studies in a less traditional manner. Furthermore, today’s generations become exposed to technologies at a very young age. This makes online, computer-based, and self-paced learning models more comfortable.
Elearning seems to be good for the environment as it cuts over 85% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Studies suggest that elearning can lessen energy consumption by about 90%.
Elearning can reduce the required time for students to learn the material by 25%-60% compared to traditional learning methods.
Seven in 10 teachers agree that elearning tools are helpful to students when studying things on their own.
Students are mostly satisfied with their online learning courses as 95% are willing to recommend online education to other people.
96% of students, especially children, say that elearning tools are fun to use and help them learn things on their own.
77% of students who enroll in online programs claim that it will help them reach their employment and career goals.
Elearning can help students learn about five times more material for each hour of the session.
71% of principals say that digital learning tools facilitate their students’ real-world problem-solving skills.
35% of teachers and school administrators believe that the elearning system helps them provide more personalized instructions that are more suitable to the skill levels of their students.
17% of students taking online learning say that it is the only way for them to pursue their field of interest.
52% of online students choose digital courses because of the prior commitments they have that conflict with campus-based attendance.
90% of K-12 public school teachers claim that digital learning tools are the best when searching for information or doing research.
35% of faculty members claim that elearning tools provide them with immediate and actionable data to accurately measure their students’ progress.
27% of teachers said that they have a lot of information available that can prove the effectiveness of the digital learning tools they use.
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Aside from Regular Students, Who Benefits from Elearning Courses in the US?
Aside from Regular Students, Who Benefits from Elearning Courses in the US? Transfer students: 79%
Aside from Regular Students, Who Benefits from Elearning Courses in the US? Students with disabilities: 61%
Students with disabilities
Aside from Regular Students, Who Benefits from Elearning Courses in the US? Academically underprepared students: 29%
Academically underprepared students
Aside from Regular Students, Who Benefits from Elearning Courses in the US? International students outside the US: 25%
International students outside the US
Source: BestColleges, 2020
Elearning in K-12 Schools
As early as the late 1990s, several schools have already been using technologies, such as televisions, CDs, personal computers, and the internet to supplement students’ learning. Its growth in professional and post-secondary development has greatly contributed to the adoption of virtual learning for K-12 students. Unlike its other counterparts, however, elearning in K-12 mostly centers on student-teacher interaction.
While exclusive distance learning is a viable solution to early education, the most commonly used model is blended learning. It is a hybrid solution where the traditional learning method is combined with software-driven resources. Gamification initiatives are typically used to enhance children’s interest in lessons. Mobile devices such as iPads and tablets are the most common tools in the K-12 elearning system.
57% of all K-12 students in the U.S. are using digital learning tools for their daily education in 2019.
52% of K-12 students take advantage of games that focus on specific skills or content for their elearning materials.
65% of K-12 teachers are already using digital learning tools to teach their students every day.
25% of K-12 teachers notice improved learning outcomes for their students with the help of elearning tools.
Online educational videos (67%) are the most commonly used learning materials in K-12 classrooms, followed by educational software or apps (65%). Only 17% of K-12 classes use e-books and 2% use e-magazines.
56% of classes that utilize e-learning materials let students do their research on websites.
30% of K-12 teachers believe that digital learning tools help engage students with learning and school.
96% of students in 3rd to 5th grade claim they use elearning materials to learn a lot of time in their class.
18% of teachers believe in empowering their K-12 students in directing their own study through the use of elearning tools.
Source: Gallup, Inc.
Elearning in Higher Education
Elearning is a more accepted term in the higher education landscape. This is primarily due to post-secondary students being more prone to interdependency, working part-time or full time, parents with children, etc. With elearning being self-paced at large, more students find it more convenient than the traditional chalk-and-board method.
Furthermore, a lot of prestigious universities, such as Harvard and Oxford offer their courses through elearning. This provides greater access to learning materials without having to be in close proximity to the physical campuses.
In the fall of 2018, there are about 6.9 million college students enrolled in distance education courses.
Post-secondary elearning courses are most popular in public schools with 4.96 million enrollees in 2018. Only 1.9 million students from private colleges decided to take distance education courses.
Email constitutes 67.82% of the means of students for getting informed as well as for communicating and sharing materials with professors or their fellow students.
34% of graduates deem that the quality of the faculty bodies is the most important factor when choosing online courses.
Millennials constitute about 50% of online college students while one-third are from Gen X.
26 million post-secondary students are enrolled exclusively in distance learning courses in 2018. Fifty-seven percent of them enrolled for a course offered by schools of the same state.
60% of undergraduates choose an online education program based on its affordability. However, 39% of them think that reputation of the program or school is the number one deciding factor.
VR platforms and other simulation systems are used by 17% of students enrolled in elearning courses.
56% of elearning college students use a tablet or smartphone to complete their online course-related activities.
Comparing 2014 and 2019 data, graduates are now more interested in taking online courses in business, computers and IT, and STEM than before. They show a 2%, 10%, and 5% higher enrollment rate, respectively.
26% of undergraduates are most interested in business-related online courses, while 15% intend to take a computer and IT-related programs.
65% of US faculty are in full support of open educational resources.
By the end of 2019, over 13,500 MOOCs are being launched or offered by more than 900 universities around the world.
There are currently 110 million students enrolled in MOOC programs.
Coursera, the top MOOC provider in the world with 45 million learners, offers 3,800 courses, 420 micro-credentials, and 16 degrees.
One of the biggest reasons why MOOCs are not as effective as initially projected is because 73% of students are not aware of its availability.
Source: Wiley Edu, LLC, and EducationDynamics, 2019
Challenges of Using Elearning
Several barriers hamper the full adoption of elearning into a standardized educational system since day one. As presented in the statistics below, these include the required continuous innovation of products, lack of feasible revenue models, unreliable internet connections, software and hardware variability, and more.
Some of the said issues, such as inadequate internet bandwidth, have been naturally addressed in some areas through technological advancement. However, more concerns are still being escalated to oppose the implementation of elearning in the educational system.
24% of online students are concerned about lackluster quality, instruction, and academic support for online learning courses versus on-campus education.
65% of school administrators are concerned about the difficulty of marketing new online programs to prospective students.
27% of students claim that they do not have the basic computer skills to make elearning system work for them.
43% of students think that cultural challenges are the biggest obstacle to the implementation of the elearning system.
8% of online students believe that having to use new software and technologies for digital learning will become a problem for students.
Only 26.4% of students are confident that they are properly prepared to use elearning systems. 33.9% think that they are poorly prepared.
15% of students are afraid that lack of interaction with classmates and professors because of online learning will be detrimental to their education in general.
21% of students express concern regarding the possible unfavorable perception of employers of degrees earned through online learning.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, a full-time student typically needs to dedicate around 30 hours per week to studies. This is a substantial time commitment for those who are also full-time workers.
32% of students find that there are no proper policies and guidelines in effect for the elearning system.
Despite having many courses available through mobile devices, 17% of online students complain that their elearning program does not support mobile access.
Only about one-third of the classrooms are equipped with devices for effective elearning courses.
63% of schools or districts do not have the funding for educational technology.
45% of students think that their Wi-Fi connections are too slow for the digital learning system.
41% of teachers believe they are not well-trained enough to effectively leverage educational technology.
39% of the teachers in English Maintained Schools are not willing to support elearning tools in their teaching.
Elearning’s Growth is Set
Even before the global pandemic has helped raise the demand for elearning platforms, the industry is already on its trail to continuous growth. Players new and old alike are entering the field of elearning, making the market more competitive. This is beneficial to users because it means better, cheaper, and more innovative programs.
While the challenges are there, the trend is still in favor of elearning’s growth and adoption. Therefore, we can expect a more widespread implementation of different elearning programs in both K-12 and college. While a globally accepted regulation has yet to come for this type of tech, each institution who wish to implement it must prepare to meet the expectations, needs, and experience level of their students.
For those who are considering taking elearning courses themselves, diving headfirst into the program is not advisable. Comparison of programs, doing research about financial aid and costs, and speaking with professionals in the field is of utmost importance. Reading up on elearning techs is also a great way of understanding more about them to leverage its effects to full potential.
NCES (2019). Number and percentage of students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by distance education participation, location of student, level of enrollment, and control and level of institution: Fall 2017 and fall 2018. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_311.15.asp