EdTech, or education technology, is where information technology tools and resources intersect with educational practices. The goal of EdTech is to make learning more effective, efficient, and fun, helping to ensure that students engage in the process of learning and get the most out of their teachers’ instruction.
One of the most obvious EdTech areas is online courses, which brings together a number of technology tools including presentation and design software and the use of the internet to disseminate information. RecoMind put together a study of three of the largest online course providers — Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning — to see which EdTech topics are the most important today.
The pandemic drove significant increases in online learning
As we’ve already identified, distance learning has become a vital part of the educational landscape. Without the ability to configure, implement, and manage online classrooms, education would have ground to a halt during the pandemic — a real tragedy for millions of students whose educations would have suffered tremendously.
But formalized online classrooms replacing real-life classrooms weren’t the only forms of online learning to be impacted by the pandemic. Another is the number of people accessing online education from providers like those included in the study. According to the study, the number of online learners jumped from an estimated 105 million to 153 million between 2019 and 2020, with a predicted 196 million and 251 million for 2021 and 2022.
That’s a tremendous increase in the number of people accessing education online. Clearly, people are taking advantage of the time and resources freed up by the pandemic to learn new skills and areas of expertise.
Which are the most important niches?
- Artificial intelligence, 5 million learners: including topics such as data science, machine learning, and deep learning
- Thinking process and coaching, 4.6 million learners: including topics such as life coaching, critical thinking, strategic thinking, learning how to learn, and introduction to psychology.
- Wellness, 4.4 million learners: including topics such as the scient of wellbeing, COVID-19 contact tracing, and transforming your health and your life.
- Communication, 3.1 million learners: interpersonal communications, improving your listening skills, English for career development, communicating with confidence, and developing your emotional intelligence.
- Office tools, 2.2 million learners: including topics such as Excel 2016 essential training, Microsoft Teams essential training, Office 365 Excel essential training, and Excel from beginner to advanced.
- Arts and digital design, 1.5 million users: including topics such as graphic design, a new way to learn piano, drawing, photography, and character drawing.
- Finance, 1.4 million learners: including topics such as financial markets, investment banking, how venture capital works, and financial analyst training and investing.
- Marketing, 1.3 million learners: including topics such as Instagram marketing, learning personal branding, online marketing foundations, general marketing.
- Remote work and time management, 1.2 million viewers: including topics such as remote work foundations, time management fundamentals, project management fundamentals, and time management working from home.
Taken together, the entire universe of online courses represents a big business. In 2020, the market size of online courses was estimated at $199 billion. By 2026, that number is predicted to climb to $375 billion.
Other key takeaways
The study also identified some keys to the online learning space. First, as already mentioned, the pandemic has created tremendous growth in the use of online learning courses – at least a 46% increase. That’s expected to continue for the next several years, with the growth rate hovering at 30% annually.
Next, the topics most demanded by online learners were in the technical skills, interpersonal skills, and wellness areas. The latter two are no surprise given the impact of the pandemic on social interaction.
Finally, the courses that were most in demand were those that offered the highest quality. The study points out that Coursera, which hosts the least number of courses in terms of sheer quantity – 5,540 in 2020 compared to Udemy at 157,000 and LinkedIn Learning at 16,000 — had the largest share of users.
Online learning as just one aspect of EdTech is a growing field that will become even more important going forward. The pandemic has changed the face of education forever, taking it online in ways never before imagined.