Being part of a new business and an evolving industry certainly keeps you on your toes. Having worked in the field of online learning for a number of years now, including the last 3 with Astutis, I have seen lots of changes … in the number and quality of online learning courses available … in the technology … and in attitudes towards online learning. The recent report on e-learning market trends and forecast 2014-2016 from Docebo has helped me to focus on a few key points about where online learning is today … and where it is going in the future.
Market acceptance of online learning has resulted in increased use for small and large companies. For many people it is not the second ‘oh if I must’ choice now. Online learning is flexible and can fit into a busy life. It can even be carried with you and digested in bite sized chunks, when and where it suits you. Online learning is also generally a cheaper alternative than a classroom course, which doesn’t require you to take hours or days away from your job … an attractive proposition for employers, but also an attraction for those who are funding their own learning and development.
Although we were very positive about the future of health and safety online learning 3 years ago, I don’t think we could have known that of the 10 000 people Astutis have trained so far, almost 2 500 would be e-learners, and at least 800 of those e-learners would have already successfully completed their courses.
What our e-learners say: It is my first experience of online learning, and I found that being able to start / stop the learning at any time, at work and at home was very helpful, it meant that the course could be worked in around my normal daily activities. (IOSH Managing Safely)
Employers spend on training is declining … the shift towards online learning is mainly due to budget constraints … but it is also influenced by organisations with widely geographically distributed workforce. Employees still need training, particularly in health and safety, so presumably employers are going for the less costly option of online learning which, provided a quality online learning experience is available, is not a problem, because more people can be trained for less money. The online learning option also ensures the same experience for everyone (provided the learner takes advantage of everything that has been designed into the course, and is on offer to them) regardless of their location or the time of day they are studying. Online learning means learners can learn when and where it suits them … with no travel costs, or costs associated with being away from their job for hours, days or weeks.
What our online learners say: Usually I am not a fan of online learning, but tried this to cut down on huge travel distances and time involved in attending a course. Found it to be the best online learning course I have tried due to the interactivity and mix of media. (IOSH Managing Safely)
The world isn’t equal when it comes to online learning … the U.S.A. spent more on self-paced online learning than anywhere else in the world. Western Europe is the world’s second largest buying region for online learning products and services, but Asia is predicted to outspend Western Europe in online learning terms by 2016. At Astutis we started developing courses for the UK market but very soon realised there was a growing demand for health and safety online learning course internationally. Online learning isn’t limited by geography … provided you have a suitable device with appropriate software, an internet connection and time, you can learn with Astutis wherever you are in the world. Already 11% of our distance and e-learners are studying our international courses … and we expect this to rise as our international offering continues to increase, particularly with the launch of our latest NEBOSH International Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety e-learning course in May 2014.
Africa in particular is restricted by lack of proper IT infrastructure and connectivity solutions …. but today’s fast growing market for mobile devices look to be a trend that will support the development of Online learning in Africa. The world in general seems to be going mobile and the expectation for many is that they can access everything wherever they are …. so our online learning has to go mobile too. When our courses were initially developed three years ago, ‘Flash’ was the preferred medium for online learning, however, times and technologies have changed and the mobile devices (tablets) that we see everywhere nowadays don’t generally support Flash, which has fuelled our need to keep pace. Last year our learning management system (LMS or online learning website) provider Absorb LMS launched their award winning, mobile friendly version. Astutis is following hot on Absorb’s heels and the mobile friendly (HTML5) version of IOSH Working and Managing Safely should be launched later this year, with the NEBOSH NGC and IGC courses ‘de-flashed’ early next year. Our latest course, the NEBOSH Diploma, is already mobile friendly.
The online learning market is expanding year on year. And at Astutis we are certainly taking advantage of that. We have invested in putting the right team together to design and develop our courses. We have an ever growing suite of health and safety online learning courses. And we have successful, happy customers, who are keen to come back for more.
What our online learners say: I really enjoyed the learning experience. I found this course engaging and aimed at the right level. The balance of media types made for a fun yet informative course. I will definitely undertake another online learning course with you. (IOSH Managing Safely)