The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us conduct our lives both personally and professionally. Working from home, social distancing, wearing masks, the rule of six; some of these were only temporary changes, whereas it looks like others may be here to stay a while longer.
On the 23rd March 2020, the British public was told to stay at home. Overnight thousands of companies were forced into a situation they were not prepared for. Staff were not set up to work from home and companies were not in a position to support home working. It also meant eLearning was elevated up the agenda for many more people than ever before. Suddenly, businesses, individuals and educators were using eLearning to train, educate and develop new or existing skills.
How eLearning helped businesses
With people working from home, the most effective way to train and develop staff was virtually. Whilst this could be done through video calls, companies soon started to see the added value of investing in eLearning. Staff could stay up to date with training at a time that suited them. The training could be adapted and personalised for their company’s needs and the wide variety of eLearning options meant training was fun. No more death by powerpoint!
The use of eLearning enabled companies to continue recruiting throughout the pandemic, with their new starters being trained online. What’s more, companies could take advantage of being able to recruit outside of their geographic location. Thanks to eLearning and working from home, people no longer had to choose between working near home or signing up for a lengthy commute!
Now, with mandated working from home lifted, many companies have opted for a hybrid working model allowing employees to work both from home and in the office. The advantages of eLearning mean that companies can still ensure staff are continually developing and learning, whether they are working in the office or at home.
eLearning didn't just have an impact on business
When the first lockdown was implemented, emotions were running high and we were living in the unknown. People were either working from home, were key workers or were furloughed. Business owners and individuals worried if their companies would survive or if they would have jobs to go back to. We were not allowed out to socialise and people were confined to their homes, initially only allowed to see people that they lived with.
As the weeks turned into months, people began to look at new ways of utilising their newfound freedom. Rather than binge-watching Netflix, or scrolling Tik-Tok, people began to look into online courses. Whether to increase skills that they could later use in the workplace or to finally learn a new language. According to Statista, people searching using the term ‘free online learning’ grew by 367.53% in the UK during the pandemic.
Online learning is more convenient than classroom teaching. If you work full time and have children to look after, finding time to do an evening course can be hard. By contrast, eLearning has opened doors for many people, throughout and beyond the pandemic.
eLearning supported students to continue with education
According to We forum ‘Up to 1.2 billion children in 186 countries were affected by the school closure in the pandemic and forced to shift to online learning.’ This shift to online learning supported students from reception all the way to university level to continue their education.
This new way of learning wasn’t without its problems though. Teachers had to juggle teaching some students remotely, whilst those that were vulnerable or had parents who were key workers were still attending school. Students had to grasp the new way of learning and parents often needed to be on hand to help and support those that were too young to understand the concept of eLearning, or lacked the necessary IT skills to complete online learning.
The use of eLearning has benefited many students, however even in developed countries like the UK and US, 20% of students do not have access to adequate laptops/PCs or sufficient internet (source – world bank). This meant that whilst eLearning was amazing for bridging the gap throughout the pandemic, some students were disadvantaged.
What’s next for eLearning?
To sum up, the benefit of eLearning has been felt by students, individuals and businesses throughout the pandemic and in different ways.
Inevitably, there have been some bumps along the way. As an industry, eLearning takeup grew faster than anyone could have anticipated. In order to sustain the trajectory of eLearning in the future, training in conducting online learning and ensuring everyone has adequate equipment and infrastructure to be able to participate in eLearning is essential.
Just like the rapid adoption of working from home, the pandemic resulted in a seismic shift to online learning which would probably have taken years to happen naturally.
Looking ahead, we will see more and more eLearning options becoming available, which may be combined with face to face courses and learning, creating hybrid learning systems. As the saying goes, “necessity is the Mother of invention” and the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the enormous power of eLearning.
One thing’s for sure – the future is bright for eLearning and very, very exciting!
Book a free call to find out how eLearning can benefit you.