Hero Op-Ed: The Future of E-Learning

In the following post Pantheon Hero Roy Sivan gives his opinion on the future of e-learning. Hint, it’s here to say. Dive in to read more.

Image by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

No one was prepared for the world of 2020. 

One area of our lives that saw significant change was education. Schools for all ages closed for students, and teachers were forced to learn how to teach online via teleconferencing applications like Zoom. For those of us that have been working remotely in tech, none of this was new, but most of the world was not accustomed to conducting their daily routines remotely via Zoom. 

Moving into 2021 and onwards, as schools bring students back and folks return to offices, the medium for learning has fundamentally changed. The idea of needing to be somewhere specific to learn or teach is now antiquated.

Live vs. Online Courses

Online courses are not a new thing; we’ve seen websites like Lynda.com (now known as LinkedIn Learning) and others flourish before 2020. However, in the wake of 2020, we saw a new rise in self-made courses. I mentioned in the first part of this blog post series that SaaS solutions exist, along with custom setups using WordPress. You can find part two of this series here, which details how you can configure your online course and common obstacles to overcome along the way. 

I’m just old enough to remember when I wanted to learn something (underwater basket weaving, anyone?), you had to go to a local community college or traditional institution. As the Internet exploded with video content on websites like YouTube, the world slowly moved to learning online. Now you can learn almost anything online, from one small thing (i.e. like a micro-lesson) like changing a light fixture to full multi-lesson classes to help you learn all aspects of in-depth subject matters.

There are advantages to having a live learning experience, including a less asynchronous learning curve. As a student, you may want to be able to ask a question as they come up — to help you better understand the content. 

Instead of sending a message and waiting for a response, live teaching allows you to ask questions as they arise. Currently, most learners push for the pre-recorded courses that they can take at their own pace. However, Zoom isn’t going away! In the future, we’ll see another push for more live/teleconference approaches vs. pre-recorded from common SaaS platforms that facilitate learning online.

Learning Won’t Be Limited To Schools & Teachers

The world of learning in the future will be less focused on traditional schools and more focused on learning online. This follows the trend of general commerce. You used to have to leave your house to buy anything, and if you wanted a hard-to-find item, you had to find a specialty store — sometimes a great distance away. The world of catalogs brought this one step closer to reality, but computers and e-commerce was the final step. Brick and mortar stores simply do not need to exist for non-essential items at this point. 

Credentialed Teachers vs. Experts Teaching

Another shift within education will be who we learn from, not just where we learn. Traditionally, teachers have been experts who have been certified to teach students. However, why do credentials need to exist for all courses and learning materials? Today, I can go online and find experts that are still working in their field, creating great courses. 

Is that a bad thing? Nope! While working in a field makes keeping up to date with the latest and greatest harder, it is also the best way to teach with practical use cases readily at hand. In tech, this is easy to understand, as someone working a full time job may find it hard to keep up with the latest developments in a framework, but not every industry moves as fast as tech.

Choosing Who You Learn From

Most colleges and universities require students to pick classes and make their own schedule. When I was at California State Polytechnic, Pomona, we had internal websites used to help find the “best” teachers based on reviews from other students. We could look at our schedule and pick out the classes that best fit timing, but also pick the teachers we thought would resonate well with us (or maybe just be the easiest graders). 

While this was an awesome shift from high school where we had only a few teachers and no choice, in the world of today and tomorrow, being tied to a specific institution won’t limit which teachers you can choose to learn from.

When I need to spend the time learning something new, I will go to my favorite website(s) and start looking around for what is available and who it’s taught by. I go to YouTube as a fallback if I cannot find the subject matter I want. No matter where I land on a course, I have the choice of who and where to learn from. 

The best professors in the world of tomorrow won’t be at a school, but they’ll be available online for anyone to learn from. 

WordPress At The Base

WordPress isn’t going anywhere, and I hope that as more professionals move into teaching their own courses online, they’ll use WordPress. I went through the reasons for why WordPress in a previous post in this series.

WordPress has been growing steadily since it was first launched. At the time of writing this, WordPress is over 40% of all content management systems (CMSs) being used online. This accounts for blogs, small business websites, e-commerce, and learning websites. In the near future, I hope to see more hosts that are already well known for great WordPress hosting and support, open up to focusing on supporting e-learning and learning management systems (LMSs) built on WordPress. 

The LMS setup is not a simple website, it has its complexities just like a WooCommerce (e-commerce) build, and it should be treated that way. I’m hoping to see more hosts focusing on supporting teachers and students.

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Topics Training and Education, WordPress