The online education space is an area that’s been expanding for a few years now, but it took LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of Lynda.comto make people really sit up and take notice. This unexpected move initiated a worldwide conversation about the future of the e-learning space.
And that future is bright.
Online learning systems are breaking down the barriers to education that have been in place for decades. Stay-at-home parents can now study right from their living rooms; busy execs can log in and out as their schedules allow, and industry experts can make a living from sharing their knowledge online.
Industries such as digital marketing, tech, and design, are so fast-moving that most syllabuses are out of date before they’ve even reached the lecture hall. With Google churning out new algorithms every 5 minutes, how could anyone be expected to stay ahead of the crowd? Online learning solves this problem by making real-time and ongoing training and development accessible for all.
This skill-based learning system is a stark contrast to the broken academic education model we have in place at present – a dated model that encourages linear thinking and dissuades students from thinking outside of the box. The Australasian Survey of Student Engagement revealed that 76% of graduates felt that their academic studies failed to adequately prepare them for solving complex real-world problems. But that was hardly an unexpected revelation.
The reality is that mainstream curriculums contain little to no practical learning, and there’s a huge gap between what’s learned in the classroom and what’s actually expected on the office floor. By learning from industry experts, students can gain a working knowledge rather than a theoretical one; they can learn to look at situations with a critical and pragmatic eye rather than relying simply on theoretical know-how.
This is what makes online learning the most logical step forward in 2016. In fact, this was the most ‘logical’ step forward about five years ago – but it took an endorsement from LinkedIn to pimp the idea out to the masses.
So how can you get involved?
Well, you already are. Whatever it is that you do, you already know something that someone else doesn’t. You’re probably already educating people without even realising it.
Think about the content you create for your business, or the snippets of information/advice you put out on social media. Look around you – everyone else is doing it too. As a subject matter expert, you’re constantly promoting yourself as an authority in your industry and sharing your knowledge with those around you. And you’re doing it for free.
It’s time to start getting paid.
The compound annual growth rate of the worldwide self-paced online learning market is 4.4%, and it’s set to be worth $53 billion by 2018, according to Ambient Insights Self-paced eLearning report. In fact, 42% of leading learning companies have already seen an increase in revenue from e-learning, and it’s not even their main game.
It’s all about the side hustle.
Businesses across the world are now commoditizing their knowledge by sharing tricks of the trade, real life experiences, and best practices via outlets such as blog posts, forums, videos, and email. And those who are really on the ball have developed their own online learning programs. How did they do that? By packaging their expertise into highly profitable, low risk, e-learning businesses.
And guess what? You can do it too.
Never lectured before? Irrelevant. Never graduated from Uni? No-one cares. The specific set of skills and personal experience you can offer is your USP. You’ve honed your trade through your feats and failures, and who better to learn from that someone who’s seen it all?
If you have the knowledge to share, there’s absolutely no reason for you not to do so.
Online academies like Treehouse make this simple, with low-cost packages that allow users to access massive content libraries which offer a variety of lessons. These on-demand learning packages eliminate the common obstacles to starting a course, such as costs, commute times, and availability. Users can learn what they want, when they want. And from whom they want. Imagine if you had that opportunity when you were in high school – you’d never have got lumped with that same Math teacher for two years who always ran over time and kept you in over lunch (just me?!).
The next few years are going to lead to exciting developments within the online education space, and I’m pretty excited about that. You should be too. The influence and effect it will have on worldwide industry standards will be immense and the effect it’ll have on my bottom line – as a reputable trainer – will be even more epic. And in a global learning system that spans industries, demographics, and countries, there’s more than enough room for everyone.