Just Sociology

The Rise of Online Learning: Formal Informal and Global

Online learning has been on the rise for years and it accelerated even further during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become a global phenomenon that has greatly impacted traditional education systems across the world.

This article explores the complexities of formal and informal online learning, including the four basic types of online learning and the difficulties in measuring the extent of online learning. It also discusses the overview of the global online learning market, including its value and demand.

Formal and Informal Online Learning

Online learning can be categorized into two primary types: formal and informal. Formal online learning is structured education offered by institutions and organizations.

Examples include virtual schools, online digital learning platforms, and independent educators on YouTube. Informal online learning, on the other hand, is not structured and can be done by individuals in their own time.

Examples include people sharing their experiences and life-experiments on social media platforms. The four basic types of online learning are virtual schools, hybrid learning, competency-based learning, and open education resources.

Virtual schools offer courses online and provide the necessary equipment for students to get the education they need. Hybrid learning combines both online learning and traditional classroom learning for a blended approach.

Competency-based learning allows students to progress when they have completed a certain level of competency. Open education resources offer free online courses for anyone to take.

Despite these different types of learning, it can be difficult to measure the extent of online learning due to the boundary between education and entertainment. The difficulty in measuring the extent of online learning is due to challenges in separating formal learning from informal learning.

Formal learning focuses on structured education offered by institutions and organizations, and it is easier to measure using hard data. However, informal learning is not structured and can be done on various platforms that blur the boundary between education and entertainment.

Therefore, it is challenging to get accurate data on the extent of informal online learning.

Overview of Global Online Learning

The global e-learning market value is expected to reach $315 billion by 2021. The rise in demand for online education has led to the growth of the e-learning industry, with many institutions and organizations offering online courses to individuals across the world.

The United States and Europe account for 70% of the demand for online learning, indicating that online learning is a global phenomenon. According to Coursera statistics, the largest online learning platforms have an equal number of international students as they do domestic students.

This shows that online learning is accessible to individuals across the world, regardless of their location. The growth of the online learning market has also brought about innovations in technology and educational content, making online learning more engaging and effective.

Conclusion

The rise of online learning has greatly impacted traditional education systems across the world. Formal and informal online learning have their complexities, with difficulties in measuring the extent of informal learning due to the boundary between education and entertainment.

However, the global e-learning market value is expected to reach $315 billion by 2021, showing the growth and accessibility of online learning. As technology and educational content continue to advance, online learning will be an even more effective and engaging alternative to traditional education.

Formal Online Learning

Formal online learning is structured education that is provided by educational institutions and organizations. This subtopic focuses on two primary categories of formal online learning: virtual schools in America and online learning platforms.

Virtual Schools in America

Virtual schools provide courses and official curriculums that follow the traditional education system. The online courses are led by teachers, and students can take part in formal exams, even if they are not physically located in a school.

Virtual schools are officially recognized as alternatives to traditional schooling across America, with a wide spread of classes, from elementary to high school level. According to statistics, there were 420 virtual schools in America in 2019, providing education to more than 300,000 students.

Online Learning Platforms

Online learning platforms are websites that offer online courses, either for free or for a cost. These platforms are not affiliated with educational institutions, but they often provide structured courses, with high-quality curriculums and lectures from industry experts.

There are now many online learning platforms around the world. Based on a recent report from Udemy, the top online learning platforms in the US are Coursera, edX, and Udacity, with Coursera being the largest platform.

Udemy also noted that the most popular courses in the US are in business, personal development, and IT. Coursera, on the other hand, released data that shows that health and psychology courses are the most popular in the world.

This indicates that the demand for online learning is diverse and can vary from country to country. Statistics from Coursera also reveal that there has been an increase in enrollment numbers since the outbreak of COVID-19.

In 2020, there were more than 70 million course enrollments, which was an increase of 500% compared to the previous year. Similarly, Udemy’s 2020 report showed that the number of learners on their platform doubled in the same period, with more than 35 million students worldwide.

Challenges in Measuring Global Online Learning

As discussed earlier, measuring the extent of online learning has its difficulties. While measuring formal online learning can be straightforward, measuring the extent of informal online learning is more complex.

This subtopic looks at two primary challenges in measuring global online learning: the validity of company-provided data and the difficulty measuring informal online learning.

Validity of Company-provided Data

Many online learning platforms provide data about their platform and the number of users on their website, but the validity of this data can be hard to verify. For example, some platforms may have paywalls, making it difficult for individuals to access the information without subscribing.

Additionally, platforms may exaggerate the number of learners and their geographical locations in order to build their brand reputation. Such reporting can be misleading and may not accurately reflect the extent of online learning in the world.

Difficulty Measuring Informal Online Learning

Despite its popularity, measuring the extent of informal online learning remains a challenge. There is an abundance of educational content on the internet, making it an overwhelming experience for individuals to access and categorize the relevant educational content.

Furthermore, the methodology for measuring informal online learning is not enough to capture the data adequately. For instance, counting the number of likes, shares, or views on a particular video cannot accurately measure the impact or learning outcome of that content.

Conclusion

Online learning has transformed the traditional approach to education, with a wide range of digital technology offering both formal and informal forms of learning. Virtual schools and online learning platforms are some examples of formal online learning, but the emergence of such innovative technology brings forth new challenges when it comes to measuring the extent of online learning.

The issue in measuring informal online learning arises from the abundance of educational content available and the difficulty in finding relevant information. Furthermore, the reliability of company-provided statistics can sometimes be flawed with an emphasis on building reputation rather than quality open educational resources.

Despite these challenges, online learning continues to be a driving force in education and an accessible platform to learners around the world. In conclusion, online learning has revolutionized the way we perceive education.

The global e-learning market is a growing phenomenon that provides both formal and informal learning opportunities worldwide. Formal online learning includes virtual schools and online learning platforms, while informal online learning is characterized by a range of educational content on social media platforms, blogs, and websites.

Challenges in measuring informal online learning arise from the abundance of online educational resources, making it difficult to capture data or measure learning outcomes reliably. Technology has enabled online learning to be an accessible alternative to traditional education, allowing learners from all around the world to engage in high-quality educational resources.

FAQs

Q: What are the four basic types of online learning? A: The four basic types of online learning are virtual schools, hybrid learning, competency-based learning, and open education resources.

Q: What is the global e-learning market value? A: The global e-learning market value is expected to reach $315 billion by 2021.

Q: What are the top online learning platforms in the U.S.? A: According to a recent report from Udemy, the top online learning platforms in the U.S. are Coursera, edX, and Udacity, with Coursera being the largest.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected online learning? A: COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in enrollment numbers for online learning platforms since the outbreak, with up to 500% increase in enrolments from 2019 to 2020.

Q: Why is it difficult to measure informal online learning? A: Measuring informal online learning is challenging because there is an abundance of educational content available, and the methodologies used for measuring such learning are not structured enough to capture accurate data or measure reliable learning outcomes.

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