International students working on the computer

Shocking Predictions for the Future of Online Education

Online education, otherwise referred to as smart education or eLearning, is the delivery of learning or training through digital resources.

Ranging from university self-paced independent study courses and seminars to interactive tutor-led lessons, (such as the ones offered by eurekly!) and corporate employee training, it is rapidly becoming one of the fastest-growing industries in our economy.

eLearning in Academia

In academia, advances in technology have made it possible to escape the confines of the classroom, giving us the opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime, on our own terms – something which is proving to be appealing to a generation of millennials, with statistics showing that 49 percent of students worldwide have taken an online course in the past year.

Given that US college education debt is currently estimated at over trillion dollars, online alternatives are gaining ground as a more affordable option and are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Improvements in IT security, implementation of cloud-based solutions and advancements in the field of AI now guarantee safe learning, accessible to everyone.

Corporate eLearning

Since research findings suggest that eLearning can be more effective than traditional learning methods, it is not surprising that its value is beginning to be recognized in sectors other than academia too where it is being applied with wildly successful results.

Businessman conducting an online webinar

An increasing number of companies are investing in online education, with statistics showing that in 2017 approximately 77% of US corporations used online learning, a marked growth from 4% in 1995. Electronic training platforms through which employees learn about their business and job roles and participate in workshops and conferences are frequently being invested in and it is estimated that this sector will grow at a CAGR of around 8% from 2019 to 2025.

Government eLearning Initiatives

Governments are also taking notice. Due to the maturity of the education market in the USA, its government’s initiatives are leading the way.

However, the Chinese government is also heavily investing in eLearning as part of its 13th Five-Year Plan to overhaul the country’s education system, with plans to invest US$30 billion in the sector by 2020. Brazil is using e-technology to train teachers all over the country, investing US$270 million. Government-implemented programs in India, such as Digital India and Skill India, are also gaining momentum and paving the path towards a digital future.

With forecasts suggesting that eLearning will grow to US$325 billion by 2025, it is clear that this market is a force to be reckoned with.

Online Education Market Segments

In order to better understand the size of this vast market, it is important to know that it is divided into various segments.

  • Component, i.e. hardware and software: Hardware (laptop, mobile, PC) generated revenue of nearly US$20 billion in 2017, but it is software (learning solution systems) that is expected to be leading this segment of the market in the future, since it is growing at a higher CAGR at 31.2% vs. 27.2%.
  • Product, i.e. content and services: Content encompasses all curriculums and learning materials and it is currently leading this segment of the market, generating revenue of US$16.16 billion in 2017. Services, on the other hand, can include online test preparation, certificates and degrees and it is expected to grow faster in the future with a CAGR of 30.77%.
  • Learning type, i.e. synchronous learning and asynchronous learning: Asynchronous learning means classes or training that does not require the student to be online in real time and it is leading the market by generating US$ 16.21 billion in 2017. It is face-to-face interactive learning (asynchronous learning) that is expected to be this segment’s market leader in the future though, growing at 31.01% CAGR.
  • Region: North America holds the largest market share in the global online education market. The Latin American market, however, shows promise and is expected to surpass US$10 billion by 2025.

Most notably, it is the Asia-Pacific region that constitutes the current fastest-growing market, due to increased use of smartphones for online services in countries like China and Korea and significant investments in the IT infrastructure. For example, Alibaba Group’s 2015 US$100 million investment in TutorGroup.

Other Asian regions are following suit, with the help of some foreign investment, such as Mark Zuckerberg’s CZI (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative), which aims to digitalize education worldwide, backing India’s Byju.

Figures & Forecasts

The online education market is showing no signs of slowing down. It is estimated that online courses alone globally made US$46 billion in 2017.

The market is further boosted by major investments (US venture capitalists upped their total investments in education technology from US$334.3 million last year to US$429.1 million) and important acquisitions, such as that of the very successful eLearning platform Lynda.com by LinkedIn for US$1.5 billion.

Market researchers have released soaring figures for the years to come. Global Industry Analysts projected eLearning would reach US$107 billion in 2015 and it ended up being estimated at over US$ 165 billion.

According to Orbis research, with the growth of over 7.5% CAGR during the 2015-2022 period, it will surpass a US$275 billion value by 2022 and Research and Markets forecasts possible growth to US$325 Billion by 2025.

Online Education: The Market to Watch

Given that the market has more than doubled within the space of a decade, online education is certainly proving to be a force impossible to ignore. Increasing demand from corporate and academic institutions is highlighting the enormous opportunities for technological innovations to provide cost-effective training and successful learning techniques, which will eventually become the norm slowly replacing traditional offline formats.