As a precautionary measure against COVID - 19, people from all over the world are forced into lockdown. Due to this, people have got extra time at hand. Hence, people are opting for online learning irrespective of whether they are working professionals or students. The idea is to enhance their skills as they have extra time on their hands. The purpose of learning online and it’s outcome may differ from individual to individual as per our research.
It is possible for some industries to work from home in the coronavirus pandemic as everything is taken care of virtually. As a result, the commute time is saved. While some people choose to take this time out and relax, some want to make the most of their extra time. The mindset of productively utilizing the quarantine time has resulted in more and more people taking up online learning courses.
People can always voluntarily take up these courses. But there are also employers who are encouraging their employees to take up e-learning. When an employer prefers that the employees develop skills related to their profession, they partner with corporate training companies. The choice of courses will then depend on the employers’ and employees’ preferences.
GoodFirms approached 160+ people from across the globe to know about their online learning purpose, experience, and the role of their employers in encouraging them to take up courses online.
People Are Devoting More Time to Online Learning Activities
As the majority of the population is under a strict lockdown during COVID - 19, everyone is adopting new ways to make the most of it. People strive to increase/maintain their productivity or gain some additional knowledge.
Keeping that aim in mind, there has been a significant increase in the online learning activities of people. In our survey, 44.05% of people said that their online learning activities have increased a lot in the quarantine.
Neel Somani, a software engineer at Airbnb, took this time to learn about real estate. He said, “My online learning activities have substantially increased during the pandemic. Initially, I was finishing up small side projects that I had put off for a while. I went ahead and took the courses required for a California real estate license”.
While some people are exploring their fields of interest, some are enhancing their professional skills in the extra time.
David Reishcer, a law attorney at LegalAdvice.com, is among the 40.48% of people whose online learning activities have increased somewhat in the pandemic. David said, “I have taken several new online Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes in the past 2 months because the pandemic has created an opportunity to spend more free time learning new practice areas for my law practice”.
Not to forget the 5.95% of people whose online learning activities remained the same during the pandemic.
President of Gadget Review, Rex Freiberger, is among the few people who have maintained their level of online learning. Rex said, “I would say my online learning activities have stayed consistent, but I typically try to take 1-2 new courses a month if I can fit them in. I completed an advanced programming course as a source of professional development and started a course in music theory”.
96.05% of people said that online learning has helped them in one or the other way.
Professions Drive Online Learning for Most People
The purpose of taking an online course could be varied. The purposes could be either skill development, acquiring certifications, or personal growth/interest. Of course, people also faced many challenges too. Here are the most popular purposes for which people are taking up online courses.
Maintaining peace of mind and sanity is equally important during a crisis. The way of achieving mental peace varies from individual to individual. Some prefer taking up creative courses while some opted for mindfulness or happiness courses.
Every second person takes online learning for Skill Development.
Out of the 51.19% of people who took skill development courses, one is Sara Anderson, the founder of Fullysara.com.
Sara is of the opinion that the skill development courses had a positive impact on her during the pandemic. Sara said, “I've taken full online courses in interior design, music production, and mindfulness so far during the pandemic. I subscribed to Masterclass and began taking courses that interested me”.
There are people who took up certification courses to build their resume. 34.52% of people took up certification courses online to add an extra feather in their cap.
Pavel Kaplunou is a Marketing communications manager at Smart IT, who took up certification courses to upskill for work. Pavel said, “I've mainly used online learning to upskill for work and increase competence in my position at the company. FutureLearn has a particularly great Marketing Analytics course, taught by the University of Virginia for free”.
About 13.10% of people decided to take up online courses purely for their personal growth/interest. One such person is Dan Bailey, WikiLawn’s President, who took up a sustainable living course along with his wife. They are now trying to put sustainable living practices to practical use. He said, “My wife wanted us both to take a course in sustainable living that included living a minimalist lifestyle, growing our own food, etc. I actually felt energized to put their techniques to use, and my wife and I have begun working on a more sustainable lifestyle”.
Joonas Jokiniemi, the founder of Grill Smoke Love, utilized the quarantine time to learn various aspects of building a website. He was impressed with the in-depth knowledge of the course creators and decided to go ahead with the course. He said, “I used online learning for building a new website. This includes many aspects such as content writing, visual design, technical implementation, and search engine optimization.”
People Find Self-Paced Online Courses Most Convenient
People love it when things work out according to their preferences. The same applies to online learning too. Online learning gives people the freedom to complete each module or the entire course at their own pace. About 59.52% of people agree with this viewpoint.
This becomes even more important when the course in question is entirely a new field for a person. Here is what people have got to say about online learning with respect to this factor.
Averi Melcher, an SEO consultant, feels that online learning is especially convenient for learning a dance form. “I love online learning! I was wary at first for some of the courses - like dancing for example - but I love that I can pause, rewind, and freeze the screen to take notes or revisit something” is what Averi said.
Many companies are heavily relying on SEO activities to sustain in the current scenario. Melissa Teng is the founder of Wit and Folly. She took up an SEO course to improve her company’s marketing activities. She said, “I really enjoyed it as I could start and stop as I pleased. By being able to start and stop I was able to implement a lot of the strategies I learned into the business as I went along”
For a freelance writer like Amanda Dexter, it is easier to complete the course modules as and when she gets time.
“I really like online learning because I can go at my own pace. I can binge-watch course videos one day or just watch when I have free time. I can pause, rewind, take quizzes over again (sometimes), etc”.
- Amanda Dexter, Freelance Writer
For most millennials, this is especially super convenient as they always have multiple tasks at hand.
Adam Fortuna, a writer, and developer at Minafi, could skip the boring parts of the video and focus on the core lessons. “The content for this course included 10-hours of video – more than I could complete in a weekend”, said Adam, “Instead, I started watching parts of the course on my laptop, switched to my iPad at times to keep going, and even switched places around my apartment. Increasing the video speed to 2x also helped get through the less-than-stellar parts.
Role of Online Learning in Increasing Revenue
Both business owners and working people have suffered financially in COVID - 19. While businesses have hit an all-time low, some people have been fired from their jobs due to the financial crisis. But people never lost hope.
About 45.24% of people took advantage of quarantine and signed up for online courses that will ultimately help in increasing their income. It could be either an additional income stream or implementing new marketing methods in the business to increase business.
Averi Melcher said, “Additionally, I found that the courses I took for my business will be long-term assets, as I can begin applying the lessons I learned now and revisit the content as I get more advanced.”
Founder of the ESL Authority, Quincy Smith was soon planning to launch a product. To ensure that everything goes smoothly and the product is a success, she took up an online course. Quincy said, “We are planning to release a product later this year and I needed to better understand how to manage the process. I implemented a lot of what I learned in my day to day and made significant progress in the planning and organization of our soon-to-be-launched product”
The owner of Collecting Cents, Freya Kuka, enrolled for an online course to understand Google's algorithm better and improve the online business. “I did a social media course on Pinterest hoping it would help my online business. I found it really helpful because it helped me increase traffic and target a more niche audience so my content was more relevant to them”, said her.
Online learning courses helped Brandon Foster, a teacher, and blogger at My School Supply Lists, to learn new skills and acquire some freelancing clients. Brandon said, “I started from the basic courses of Udemy and got enrolled in the premium nano degrees of Udacity. It helped me reach out to potential freelancing clients and also let my employers know about my newly in-demand learned skills. Now, I am working on some clients' projects that have enhanced my income.”
Easy to Follow Course Structure Proved to be a Boon
A course becomes easy to understand when the course offers nuggets of information in an orderly fashion. If the information is divided into equal small parts, it gives people the chance to understand every bit properly. 42.86% of people found the online courses they took as easy to follow.
Shaun Letang is the CEO of the Music Industry How to. He takes online courses to remain updated with the latest trends. He said, “The lessons were easy to follow along with, it had a likable teacher, and I managed to get through all the videos in 3 or 4 days. I went through it on 2x speed, taking many notes. I also re-watched certain videos which I thought were especially important.”
For a technology marketing consultant like Bruce Harpham, structured short lessons are an advantage. That’s because he can take a few lessons a day as per convenience. Bruce said, “The courses are typically structured as a series of short lessons. That’s beneficial because I can work through a few lessons per day. The video quality for these courses were high and the course platform was easy to navigate.”
Heinrich Long is a privacy expert at Restore Privacy. He is of the opinion that easy to follow courses could fit in his routine easily. He said, “I had a great experience with these online courses, they were short, engaging, and provided the broad principles pertaining to cybersecurity law. By splitting the curriculum into 12 bite-size lectures, I found this course easy to follow, slotting into my routine nicely.”
For Francesca Davies, content and outreach executive at It Works Media, the visual format and test at the end of each module made the course easy to follow. She added, “The course that I chose was simple to follow and understand; you learn by watching informative videos, before answering quick questions to test your knowledge at the end of each module.”
People Get In-Depth Knowledge From Their Comfort Zone
When any course offers in-depth knowledge of the subject, it automatically becomes worth the investment. A detailed course will cover every aspect of the topic along with tests at the end of each module. 39.29% of people said they were surprised and found actionable insights from the detailed courses.
Joonas Jokiniemi was in fact inspired to take up a course just because of the in-depth knowledge of the course creators. “The hosts of the webinar were the same persons who have created the course, and they impressed me with their in-depth knowledge and well-structured presentation. It was a package with detailed instructions, video lessons, and templates that were very useful for building a website.”
Muhammad Mateen, a digital marketing strategist at PureVPN, found the Ahrefs course for free. In spite of the course being free, it offered detailed information and actionable insights too. “I found the Ahrefs business blogging course about how to earn money from blogging on Reddit for free. I will highly recommend this course, as I have never found such a detailed course with actionable unique insights from the gurus.”, said Muhammad.
Fahim Kabir from Local SEO Lads was surprised by how much he didn’t know about the industry. The course from Moz academy was an eye-opening experience for him. He added, “Since I enrolled at Moz academy it was an eye-opening experience for me. Learned so much and in-depth about my own industry that I wasn't aware of. Found out I didn't even know what I didn't know. It was so informative and I still have access to these materials.”
The owner of Glazzers, Sam Hall, took an online course with Moz to understand the working of search engines. The video lessons gave extensive information on the topic. Sam said, “The course was with Moz, a reputable search marketing firm. The video lessons were thorough and comprehensive. It was very helpful in understanding how search engines want to show the user the most relevant info related to their query and methods for getting your website rank higher.”
Yet, People Miss Interacting With Fellow Attendees Too
People are relying more on technology to fill the void of socializing with their near and dear ones. Technology has succeeded to a certain extent, but it can never completely compensate for the absence of people’s social life.
34.52% of people are of the opinion that this applies to learning too. Online learning may have presented a more convenient way of learning to people, but they still miss the experience of offline learning mainly because of one-to-one interaction.
As per Adam Lumb, the site manager of Casino Professor, chatting with fellow attendees on an app is not the same as striking a conversation with them. Adam added, “The social aspect of these conferences was completely lost. The organizers did their best to facilitate networking by providing the option to chat to fellow attendees through an app - but this wasn't the same as striking up a random conversation in person.”
Even though David Pietig, the General Manager of Arlington Plastics Machinery, Inc, enjoyed the experience of online learning, he felt networking with people in-person is helpful. He said, “The class was originally supposed to be in Chicago, but was switched to the online format. The thing that is missing from online learning is the chance to network with other people in the course, which is always helpful. I was able to connect with a few of the people in the class five.”
Rae Davidson, a breakthrough coach, states that online learning may teach a lot but it cannot cover up for the lack of one-to-one interaction. She added, “I’ve found that I’ve gotten so much value from doing the course now, instead of waiting for restrictions to be lifted. Despite learning a great deal, I’ve sorely missed the face-to-face human interaction, and would definitely choose in-person education in the future where possible.”
How Did Employers Motivate Employees To Take Up Online Courses?
People did make efforts to make optimum use of the quarantine time. But there are employers too who took the necessary steps to enhance the skills of their employees. Every employer supported their employees in different ways. Some of the employers allowed flexible work timings and fee reimbursement. On the other hand, some employers purchased courses in bulk for their employees. Here is what the employees’ have got to say!
A total of 45.24% of employees stated that their employers gave them flexible work timings for online learning. One such employee is Andrew Latham, a Managing Editor in SuperMoney. Andrew said, “Our CEO regularly encourages team members to cross-train and acquire new skills. Management provides flexibility on deadlines, time off, and encouragement when team members want to acquire new skills and abilities”.
Every employee would appreciate some financial assistance from the employer for online learning. Approximately 30.95% of employers decided to reimburse the fees of their employees’ online learning courses.
Ronnie Edwards is an SEO specialist at Geek Powered Studios. His employer paid the entire cost of the course. He said, “My employer has paid the entire cost of Google Search Ads and Display Ads training courses. It's definitely a nice gesture on their part to pay for these courses during times such as these”.
About 26.19% of employees mentioned that their employers purchased online courses in bulk for their employees. The employees can choose courses as per their interest.
The CEO at Incrementors Web Solutions, Shiv Gupta, is among the employees whose company chose this way to support. Shiv said, “The company has bought Online courses in bulk for the skills enhancements of the employees. It was a great opportunity for learning more and thanks to Udemy for offering such good detailed courses”.
Every individual has a different approach to using his/her free time. However, during the coronavirus outbreak, many people have opted for online courses to enhance their skills. The ultimate aim could either be to enhance skills or generate an additional income stream. Also, it is obvious that the overall experience of taking online courses will be different for everyone.
People can individually take online courses or the employers can support them in one or the other way. Employers can help employees in a monetary/non-monetary way. The decision entirely rests on top management. However, supporting the growth of employees in the time of crisis will certainly leave a lasting impression in the minds of employees. Once this crisis is over, they will put to use the recently learned skills for the betterment of the business.
Many times entrepreneurs end up getting confused between all the corporate training companies options. The GoodFirms list of top ones will help them find one!