In my last two papers ‘Education needs to change’ and ‘Are current e learning systems able to cope with the new style of learning?’ I dealt with the state of education now; it’s failure to change, and the incapability of e learning to be able to adequately address these changes.

Now I am going to look forward, but apparently not very far, and see how e learning 3.0 will change education forever.


2015 is the year it will all change and that’s now! The e learning industry is currently worth $56.2 billion and is set to double this year.

“Universities won’t survive. The future is outside the traditional campus, outside the traditional classroom. Distance learning is coming on fast.”

The trends

Here are some interesting predictions about e learning from

1. In 2011, it was estimated that about $35.6 billion was spent on self-paced e learning across the globe. Today, e learning is a $56.2 billion industry, and it’s going to double by 2015.

2. Corporations now report that e learning is the second most valuable training method that they use. This is no surprise, given that e learning saves businesses at least 50% when they replace traditional instructor-based training with e learning. Not to mention that e learning cuts down instruction time by up to 60%.

3. Today, it’s estimated that about 46% college students are taking at least one course online. However, by 2019, roughly half of all college classes will be e learning based. This free report takes an in depth look at the important role that technology now plays in the educational sector.

4. E learning is also eco-friendly. Recent studies conducted by Britain’s Open University have found that e learning consumes 90% less energy than traditional courses. The amount of CO2 emissions (per student) is also reduced by up to 85%.

5. Over 41.7% percent of global Fortune 500 companies now use some form of educational technology to instruct employees during formal learning hours, and that figure is only going to steadily increase in future years. For a more in depth analysis of e learning in the enterprise you may find valuable the Kineo e learning in the Enterprise Survey Results 2013 and Info graphic learning-in-the-enterprise-info graphic/

6. The world’s most rapidly growing e learning markets are Malaysia and Vietnam. In fact, the estimated 5 year annual growth rate for the Asian e learning market is 17.3%. That is the highest compound annual growth rate of any global region.

7. Self-paced ‘s growth rate in the Middle East is 8.2%, and its revenues are expected to reach $560.7 million by 2016.

8. The self-paced e learning market growth rate in Western Europe is 5.8%, and it’s estimated that their revenues will be at $8.1 billion by 2015.

9. Africa’s compound annual growth rate for self-paced e learning is 15.4%, and their revenues are expected to reach $512.8 million by the year 2016.

10. According to a report released by IBM, companies who utilize e learning tools and strategies have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50%. For every $1 that company spends, it’s estimated that they can receive $30 worth of productivity.

11. According to a recent study conducted by The Research Institute of America, e learning has the power to increase information retention rates by up to 60%. That means that, not only is e learning more cost efficient, but also it’s more effective (in terms of how much knowledge is truly acquired during the learning process). This article discusses how e learning helps to boost retention rates by reducing cognitive overload.

12. It’s been estimated that nearly 25% of all employees leave their job because there simply aren’t enough training or learning opportunities. On the other hand, companies who do offer e learning and on-the-job training generate about 26% more revenue per employee.

13. 72% of companies who were included in a recent survey stated that e learning helps them to keep up-to-date with changes in their industry, which helps them to remain competitive within their niche. It was also found; in a study conducted by Bersin & Associates those companies and organizations that did have a strong learning culture did better in their market than those who do not. For example, these organizations are 46% more like to be the leader in their industry, note a 34% increase in their ability to respond to the needs of the customer, and are 17% more likely to become the market share leader.

So why is this happening?

Well, the world has changed and many people haven’t notice! It’s now online and so are we.

Fig 1 - Global Digital Snapshot

Figure 1, 2015 worldwide Internet, mobile and social media trends


‘Staying up-to-date on emails, social media and other means of online communication is a bigger time requirement than people may realize: New research has found that the average user (USA), spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting and using social media and other forms of online communication.

That number represents nearly 14 per cent of the total time in a week.’

‘Britons are spending more time than ever on the internet with the average user now online for more than 15 hours each week.’

An in creasing amount of access is on handheld devices making learning truly mobile and accessible, almost anytime and everywhere. ‘ E Marketer expects 4.55 billion people worldwide to use a mobile phone in 2014 ’.

Users of social media looks like this, the highlight being 71% of the adult global internet user population using Facebook. So nearly three quarters of the world is online in social media. All images are taken from The Pew Research Centre[6]

Fig 2 - Facebook users

Fig 3 Linkedin users

Fig 4 Instagram users

Fig 5 Twitter Users

So what does this mean for our learning styles and predilections? It appears that not only have our learning styles changed, but we need a different approach from the Victorian need for equipping people with facts. Then, in the industrial revolution, there were scientific laws and engineering formulae that could be applied safely for a lifetime and that needed to be retained to be used daily. Now with the ability to access the internet and store information digitally to carry with you anywhere, even in the pocket of a pair of jeans that is less important.

We have as many facts as we need in our pocket and if we don’t, we simply go online and find out what we need to know, on a ‘just in time’ basis, then store it on our cell phones.

Telephone engineers and roadside car assistance engineers have computers in the vans which hook up to a central database of information, they don’t need to learn it, they just need to know what to do with the information.

So what we need now is skills to use the facts, not just the facts themselves.

Additionally, the world of commerce, culture and social trends is changing so fast that facts themselves are changing fast too and no longer last a working lifetime. Therefore we need to access them frequently to check and update our information.

Yuri Quintana says in his paper ‘Evaluating the Value and Effectiveness of Internet-Based Learning’

‘One of the most prominent trends in distance education is the emergence of Open Learning, which has been defined as “a student centered approach to education which removes all barriers to access while providing a high degree of learner autonomy”. The Internet supports the open learning concept by providing students with the ability to connect to educational resources when it is convenient for them, and allowing students to explore the educational resources in an order that suits their needs. In an open learning environment the teacher no longer serves as the keeper of knowledge. Instead the teacher acts as a tutor, facilitator, and resource to assist in the student’s learning process.

Each student has individual preferred patterns or methods for learning which need to be recognized and supported with the appropriate learning technologies. Some example of learning styles or instruction include:

1. Visual or Spatial Learning – The ability or preference to learning information using graphical images and 3D models of objects. Internet technologies that support this type of learning include the World Wide Web and all its images, and 3D modelling languages such as VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language).

2. Musical and Sound Learning – The ability or preference to use of music and sound to understand educational material. Internet technologies that support this type of learning include downloadable sound files on WWW and real time on-demand audio.

3. Intra-Personal Learning – The ability or preference to learn by encouraging or requiring students to understand their own feelings, interests, goals, etc. Internet technologies that support this type of learning are interactive questionnaires on WWW or downloadable multimedia applications (also known as applets).

4. Inter-Personal Learning – The ability or preference to learn by discussing with others. Internet technologies that support this type of learning include text, audio and video conferencing, e-mail, discussion mailing lists, and news groups.

5. Linguistic-Based Learning – The ability or preference to learn by understanding words and language and reading. Internet technologies that support this type of learning include gopher, lynx (a text-based WWW browser).

6. Mathematics-Based Learning – The ability or preference to learn by understanding mathematics. Internet technologies that support this type of learning include new formatting methods that can be used to display mathematical equations on the WWW.’

The change in behavior

So, clearly and unequivocally, more most people are connected and using the internet and social media.

There appears to have been changes in behavior as a result, with learning styles changing and many teachers reporting this as an inability to focus or concentrate!

‘There is a widespread belief among teachers that students’ constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks, according to two surveys of teachers being released on Thursday.’

‘In fact the symptom of boredom is because the lesson is not student centric and in the wrong medium. Teachers are trying very hard to adapt and many say they have to become entertainers to hold the attention of students! This is a losing battle and admirable though their efforts are, a waste of effort.

Instead what should be happening is that education should be embracing the technology and adopting the ‘flipped classroom’ approach.

‘It’s called “the flipped classroom.” While there is no one model, the core idea is to flip the common instructional approach: With teacher-created videos and interactive lessons, instruction that used to occur in class is now accessed at home, in advance of class. Class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time.

Flipped classroom teachers almost universally agree that it’s not the instructional videos on their own, but how they are integrated into an overall approach, that makes the difference.’

I accept that this seemingly small change is difficult to achieve. We find that having to learn new skills, to encapsulate a lesson into 5 minutes, learn how to produce and edit videos and produce e learning challenges teachers.

But there is significant evidence that more and more teachers are looking in this direction and moving towards this type of model.  I have an example that proves that the process and the age of a teacher, as is often argued, is not a barrier.

My example is Jim Baker, a retired teacher. He retired from full-time teaching in August 2008 after 38 years at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, Lincoln (formerly Lincoln School). He was Head of Chemistry and Deputy Head of Science in charge of behaviour management within Science when he retired. He practised the ‘Flipped Classroom’ before the expression existed! He created his website to promote independent learning and to make his materials available to students when they wanted them. This led to a revolutionary piece of teaching.

‘The site is now available for creating forums on which students can ask/answer questions and share problems/solutions with each other and with the teacher are in place. In schools where these are used, feedback from the students is very positive. Students should be told (or if not told, they should ask) what their next lesson is about. The students can then read about the topic before the lesson and have questions ready to ask.

They will learn far more from that lesson than ‘going in cold’. (One understands a film far more having read the book first or having seen the film once before). In addition, they will ask their questions in the lesson on that topic. When students have a lesson they have not prepared for (because the topic of the lesson was not known), they do not learn as much during the lesson. In addition, they cannot consolidate and come up with questions until after the lesson. They then ask their questions next lesson (if they remember). The next lesson may be days ahead and on a different topic.

Most students I asked did not know what they would be doing in their next lesson. I told them always to ask so they could prepare for it beforehand. They started to do this and all said they ‘got far more out of the lesson’ having read about it first. My views on homework are simple: students should choose their own homework whenever possible. Setting the same homework to a class is not very productive. Students who achieve full marks are wasting their time spending it on work they can do. After a lesson the students’ needs will differ. Student A may have understood the first part of the lesson but not the second part. Student B may have understood the second part but not the first part.

So, student A needs to spend his/her homework time ‘getting to grips’ with the second part of the lesson whilst student B needs to spend his/her time ‘getting to grips’ with the first part of the lesson. By doing this each student is maximising his/her time. In addition, a student is more likely to do homework they choose and see the need for.

I am a great believer in independent learning and I put the above ‘homework theory’ into practice in 1998 with my 14 ‘A’ level Chemistry students. The ‘A’ level grades obtained by these 14 Chemistry students in 2000 were: 8 Grade A’s 3 Grade B’s 3 grade C’s I think the results prove the theory works (the same students’ results in ‘less demanding’ subjects were not so good). Parents need educating on homework. They must not assume ‘more homework means more learning’.

This is indeed a glimpse of the future delivered by a 61 year old man who plays Baker Street on his website!

What this illustrates is that students are motivated and more successful by becoming independent learners.

‘The Flipped Classroom’ is a way of using technology to maximise the valuable face-to-face contact time by exploring, supporting and giving further explanations.

In the ‘flipped classroom’ model feedback is almost instant, the student gains motivation from this and progresses faster.

The other important factors in the model are learner motivation is stimulated by social contact and the independence and control fostered.

Juxtapose this style of learning against the traditional rigid system, which only allows everyone to progress at one time and where you have to wait a week for feedback. The student becomes demotivated because there is no time for explanation, except by his friends. Most importantly there is little time for exploration, support for learning and revisiting concepts that have not been understood the first time.

What will these new systems and learning practices look like?

In my opinion the changes will be far reaching.

More content will be available online in new and different learning environments which are more learner centric and which measure progress inside and outside a formal course.

More employers are becoming interested in informal learning and this will become recorded for use in recruitment. This is already being recorded and ‘badged’ by MOOCs and other online course providers but this trend will go further and become more common and useful.

Teachers are likely to be divested of the mundane clerical roles thrust on them now to leave time for them to create exciting new materials to motivate and excite learners.

School timetables will be changed and many lessons could be online and even include streamed video lessons from teachers outside the school, or even the country.

Schools contributions will change to become daytime guardians providing secure places to study whilst parents are at work. They will focus on providing social, cultural and emotional guidance and support and the curriculum will be much wider, freer and less time constrained.

Theoretically a student could choose to study any subject from Astrology to Icelandic Language because the external teaching resource could always be found though e learning.

Special learning needs support will improve as a result of being available online and costs will be reduced as each school will benefit from economies of scale as they will not have to maintain an uneconomical resources for a few students. Instead the cost will be spread efficiently across a larger number of students. Time will be better used and specialists for less common conditions will be available regardless of distance and time.

Ultimately teachers would be doing what they should do best which is creating knowledge and a curiosity for learning, not babysitting and filling in forms.

We are now in the age, not of life-long learning and continual learning, but constant learning. By this I mean that we will, of course learn throughout our lives but we will also learn all the time as and when we need to know something.   

Technology, culture and commerce are moving at an ever-faster rate and we must keep up to remain relevant, valuable and employable.

This is the real social and learning style change that education has to accept, understand and facilitate.

So the world has changed, as has our behavior. This year I predict that we will see many of those changes, which have already begun, accelerate and become widely accepted.

We will look back at those historic discussions about whether e learning would ever be accepted or replace classroom learning and wonder why we ever had any doubts!

As teachers and trainers we need to embrace these exciting new opportunities and learn the new way because our students already have!

List of references 

1. Peter Drucker 1997


3. E Marketeer Report July 2013,

4. The Daily Telegraph February 2015,


6. The Pew Research Centre

7. The New York Times website,

8. The Flipped Classroom, Bill Tucker 2012,


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