expressed opinion entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
To demonstrate just how much the pandemic has affected online learning, just look at the numbers.
The industry has exploded between 2019 and 2021, from Worth $200 billion to over $315 billion. While it’s easy to attribute public health restrictions to pushing online classes into the mainstream, that doesn’t mean the trend is abating as Covid (hopefully) takes a backseat.The allure of affordable, flexible, and easily accessible knowledge in everything from bread baking to resume writing is here to stay, and the industry is expected to be worthwhile $1 trillion by 2028. But the future of online learning won’t look like it did in an age of social distancing and isolation.
Despite the growing interest from investors and learners, there is still a lingering misunderstanding of what online learning is, that the static and solitary experience typified by intensive courseware can be intimidating to learners and creators.
The truth is that online learning is evolving into a more diverse and fluid way of sharing knowledge — one based on one aspect of the experience that many overlook: community.
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when i start my The first online course, I see it as something I put into the world for others to access on their own time, with little to no involvement or connection from me. It was a great starting point and it led me to start a company with the idea that anyone can create a business and generate revenue by sharing the knowledge they already have. Today, the potential for success in building traditional courses remains high, but it is far from the only (or even the best) option for learners and creators.
Connectivity has always been a primary human need, and this pandemic has only heightened our craving for it. Over the past two years, online groups formed around shared passions and niche interests have grown in popularity and have taken on new meaning in our lives.One A recent study It was found that 77% of respondents said the most important group in their lives is online.
Communities among followers from Facebook groups, online forums, and even some social media influencers are natural environments for informal knowledge exchange, allowing peers to pass along advice on topics ranging from raising backyard chickens to learning obscure coding languages. The trust and bonds that grow in these communities also become fertile ground for more formal learning pathways—such as tutoring sessions, face-to-face workshops, and of course online courses—from the creators, moderators, and owners of these spaces .
The key difference is that these learning pathways evolved from the community, not the other way around—a 180-degree reversal of how learning and communities used to function.Especially as adults, we’ve all heard that taking classes is a great way to meet new people, but the sweet spot of online learning seems to upend that idea: revolving around shared interests and Then Provide educational programs that deepen the experience.
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The power of putting community first
To truly understand the power of community, you first have to understand what it is not. We’re not talking about free opinion galas on the open internet. Community is not to be found in the comments section of YouTube or as one of the influencer’s over 1 million followers on Instagram.
True communities are curated, with active creators reviewing or inviting members to join based on shared interests and developing a code of conduct around respectful communication, privacy, and discretion. At the same time, members are committed to active dialogue and the exchange of ideas and information—without grandstanding or challenging themselves. These are key components in creating the conditions for the flow of knowledge: you need a safe space where everyone can invest.
While online communities used to start with Facebook groups, bulletin boards or other open platforms, we are seeing a rapid shift to private communities hosted under the brand of the community leader. This allows for a more curated experience that is more valuable to members and creates a more lucrative opportunity for owners.
That might sound like a high bar for creators, but in many ways, creating a community is an easier entry point than writing and marketing a comprehensive online course. With built-in feedback loops, creators can tap into their communities to gauge interest before investing in creating more formal educational products that generate revenue and provide real value.
For example, Nadia Zadeh did just that, building her community of 60,000+ creators and influencers. initial, sidewalk daily is where people connect and exchange ideas, but with the growing desire among members for interactive learning opportunities, Zadeh has created a number of live events and online courses — grouping students into interactive groups — in response to her existing community requirements.
Related: How to Build an Online Community People Will Love
Learning with others can also provide participants with a better experience. Research shows learning in the community Has a positive impact on everything from retention of information to course completion rates. But even without an apparent teacher-student relationship, simply being involved in a group of loyal, like-minded people can be beneficial for acquiring and exchanging knowledge.
I am a few dedicated to Start a business and lead. One thing I like about these groups is that while they do offer formal seminars and classes, they offer other ways to gain more knowledge and wisdom. Just being a part of the community gives me access to new ideas and perspectives as members answer someone’s questions or share what they’ve learned from their own trial-and-error process. The idea that everyone is an expert in something ensures that I can gain knowledge just by participating – that’s what keeps me engaged and coming back.
Despite the convenience and flexibility of online learning, its downside has always been that it doesn’t offer one of the best aspects of taking an IRL course: connecting with other people. We’re finally seeing the industry mature and find a foothold by merging offline and online growth and prioritizing community connections, no matter what form it takes.