The covid-19 pandemic has brought great challenges to the governments of the world, not only due to the health crisis, but also due to the great losses in terms of employment, due to the profound economic impact on many industries. However, there are cases in which this crisis is paradoxically presented as an opportunity. One such case is the e-Learning industry.
AULAPRO SPECIAL ON E-LEARNING IN COLOMBIA:
En AulaPro We invited a group of Colombian universities to tell us about their reactions, actions, perspectives and challenges that they were facing due to the "new normality" derived from the pandemic, by covid-19, and how online education or e-learning can play a fundamental role in the near future of higher education in Colombia.
When it comes to investigating the most profitable industries in the world, we usually find in these rankings, video games, banking, tourism, the liquor industry, hydrocarbons, even betting, and why not say it, the adult industry. But we hardly find the education sector and more specifically the e-Learning sector. It is strange not to see the online education sector in those lists of the largest industries in the world, when in fact, worldwide its income is very similar or even higher than that of many of those that are never lacking.
GROWTH OF THE GLOBAL E-LEARNING MARKET
The e-Learning during the last decade has presented a sustained growth worldwide. According to OBS e-Learning Report 2018 The global e-Learning market represented about 165.000 million dollars, for the year 2015, and forecasted a sustained growth each year corresponding to 5% for the year 2023, for an estimated global income for that year of about 240.000 million dollars . Of course, the report could never see a pandemic coming, so the estimates made have fallen short, and today we could say that 2020 would very possibly be close to that figure estimated for 2023 if we think that this year's growth is not 5% but at least 15%, which would give us an estimated figure of 230.000 million dollars in revenue from e-Learning, totally changing the future projection.
In 2014, OBS presented the report The Global e-Learning Market, in which he projected the growth and implementation of e-learning in Latin America. The report presented Colombia as one of the major players driving the region, with an annual growth of 18.6%, only surpassed by Brazil with 21.5%.
E-LEARNING IN COLOMBIA: GREEN LIGHT FOR VIRTUAL EDUCATION
For the current critical situation, where higher education institutions have had to pause their face-to-face operation, it has been of great help that in mid-2019, the President Iván Duque has sanctioned Decree 1330, which would mark the roadmap for higher education.
This decree has been almost a lifeline for universities, or at least a valuable resource at this time, since in one of its innovations for the regulation of the academic accreditation process It allowed flexibility in the registration of programs, enabling the use of a single registration for a program that wants to be offered in more than one modality, especially facilitating the registration of virtual and traditional distance programs. It is perhaps due to this, that 2020 has had a notable increase in the registration of programs in virtual mode, especially, registering just over 100 new programs compared to those that were registered in 2019, with just under 6 months remaining, for which this figure may close with a good additional number.
Although attendance continues to be the common denominator with more than 90% of active programs out of a total of more than 13.500, virtual programs could close this year representing at least 7% of the total, which would be a significant advance considering that at least in the last 3 years the variation had been practically null.
GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP WITH COURSERA FOR DIGITAL SKILLS TRAINING
E-Learning, however, is not only focused on the academic offer of the country's Higher Education institutions. Although since last year Colombia began to approach the e-Learning platform Coursera, this year it was consolidated as the opportunity to offer access to the course catalog of the platform created by Stanford University, with a plan to benefit more than 50.000 Colombian students. There are various calls for digital skills that the government has launched, such as the one that at the end of 2019, sought the training of 25.000 Colombians in Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation.
In the case of Coursera, it can be said that it is one of the undisputed winners, in the entire situation derived from the pandemic. Since March, Coursera announced that it would literally turn to offer its virtual training services, to partially mitigate the situations derived from the confinement measures, which were decreed globally by a large number of governments in countries affected by the virus. This service was proposed as an alliance, so that universities and also governments could offer the platform's catalog to their students and citizens, free of charge. Colombia was one of the first to accept the proposal, but it was not the only one. This action brought Coursera an exponential increase in new students, adding 10 million in a span of 3 months, an estimated growth of 500%, to reach nearly 63 million registered users.
According to Mario Chamorro, Representative for Latin America of Coursera, Colombia has experienced exponential growth with the alliance proposed by Coursera. “What the Colombian digital transformation agency planned to do in four years, it did in just three months. Basically, the entire region has experienced this rapid transformation,” Chamorro said in an interview with LABS, a business news website about Latin America. As of June, according to Chamorro, 20.000 Colombians, of the 50.000 potential beneficiaries, were registered in the government program in alliance with Coursera.
GROWTH OF E-LEARNING PLATFORMS IN THE WORLD
However, Coursera is not the only one that has moved strategically to promote its services and, incidentally, e-Learning in the world. It is possible that a large part of the growth that the online education or e-Learning market will experience will fall to a greater extent on e-Learning platforms such as Coursera, taking into account, for example, what is happening with the dramatic increase in traffic to their websites. Due to the pandemic, well-known e-Learning platforms such as Coursera saw visits to their e-Learning portal increase by almost 3, going from an estimated 28.5 million visits in the month of January to 74.6 million in the month April, representing an impressive growth of 162%. The platform Udemy For its part, being perhaps the most visited e-Learning platform in the world, it went from having 85.4 million visits in January to 122.5 million in April, the peak of the global pandemic and when the confinement measure was generalized. in many countries. A growth of 43%. The most popular platforms like, EDX, Future learn, edureka! experienced from their usual traffic, exponential growth in their respective virtual education portals.
NEW FORMATS, NEW SYNERGIES IN EDUCATION
In the midst of the pandemic, which has hit all sectors of the economy and society so hard, there are, as in any crisis, opportunities to deal with the situation in a successful and innovative way. E-Learning will undoubtedly have a leading role worldwide, as it will in Colombia, where a greater representation is already beginning to be seen in the general academic offer of both public and private universities. The integration of higher education institutions with other market players is essential, with which synergies of mutual benefit can be developed and with a projection to favor the end user: the students.
These synergies are already beginning to appear with great initiatives such as those carried out by the University of the Andes, with Coursera, or the Universidad del Rosario and the University Javeriana with edX. New education formats are needed, such as those proposed by Google with its professional certificates for quick job placement, in the technology sector. The world is growing and advancing rapidly, and the demand for education is high. All the resources are available and what must be done today is to think of a creative way to use them, with new formats, less rigid and more in line with the current needs of the industries, and to the benefit not only of education, but of the generation of employment, prosperity and happiness.