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How Online Learning Has Evolved Over the Last Two Decades

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

Online learning has been around since 1989, when the University of Phoenix offered the first-ever online college program. Since then, online learning has been around in one way or another.

With technological advancements, education technology (EdTech) grew better and more efficient, leading to today's online learning facilities. However, the past two decades have contributed the most when it comes to the evolution of online learning. Here’s how.

How the Early 2010s Paved the Way for Modern-Day Online Learning

Online education was slowly taking shape over the late 1990s. It was also becoming somewhat mainstream in parts of America and Europe. However, it wasn’t until the early 2010s that online learning would start taking its ultimate form.

As we entered 2010, the entire online learning was about to change forever. All the credit for this massive change goes to three main types of players – MOOC platforms, online tutoring and homework assistance platforms, and skill development platforms.

Here’s how these three types of platforms changed the game forever and for the better.


MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – have enabled students to enroll in university-level courses online as they please. Irrespective of what they study or where they are, a student can take part in these courses whenever they want to. The best part about MOOCs is that these courses are often part of different universities' curricula. So, these students are getting the opportunity to be a part of that particular university.

Platforms like Coursera and edX made it possible for students to enroll in courses from MIT, Harvard, Yale, and other reputed colleges and universities. These platforms have recently offered professional certification from companies like Google and Microsoft. Thus, it’s easy to see how influential these MOOC platforms are becoming in one’s academic and professional life.

Homework Assistance Platforms

Homework assistance platforms provide students with high-quality tutors and teachers. A student can sign up and seek academic assistance services from any tutor of their choosing. These platforms are especially beneficial to those who can’t attend extra classes or consultation sessions at school. So, when in need of answers to difficult questions from any subject, a student can ask for help on homework assistance platforms like SweetStudy.

SweetStudy has been around for a decade and helps its students achieve good grades in homework, assignments, and exams. The platform employs only the best and most qualified tutors to help its students. That is why many students don’t care much about in-person tutoring classes. They take their problems to these platforms and get all the help they can from the tutors over there.

Skill Development

Coursera, edX, and SweetStudy cater to academic needs. On the other hand, platforms like Udemy and SkillShare work on skill development courses.

These skill development platforms provide courses on graphic design, animation, writing, app development, programming, and so on. Most of these courses are available to students from a beginner level. There are, however, advanced levels as well.

Through these skill development courses, students can acquire the necessary skills they need to enter their desired profession. Such platforms have also made skill-acquiring less tedious and cheaper.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Influenced Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic forced over a billion school children to leave their classrooms. Many of them then had to attend classes online. This situation led to a boom in online learning, something that not even experts had predicted was possible.

Before the pandemic, the global EdTech sector received investments of around $20 billion (by 2019). After the pandemic hit, experts projected these investments to reach the $350 billion mark by 2025. As we enter 2022, experts believe that the market value of the global EdTech industry will cross $600 billion by 2027.

These are astonishing numbers and a sign of how far online learning has come.

Despite all the advancements, it’s still heartbreaking to see that online learning is unable to reach its full potential. The main reason behind it is that the infrastructure needed to facilitate online learning is unavailable in many countries. That is why, during the pandemic, not all school kids were able to attend online classes.

However, as time goes by, the concerned authorities are trying to change this situation. Making the internet accessible and affordable to all is the priority right now. Once they achieve that, they can then push the agenda of making online learning reach more doorsteps.