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E-Learning Statistics 2022: What the Data Show

[Editor’s note: This article first ran on the website of StuDocu, an edutech startup based in the Netherlands whose platform allows students to share summaries and lecture notes with others. A lightly edited version is reposted here in agreement with StuDocu.]

While e-learning used to be a perk that only some institutions offered, it has now become the norm and a preference for the majority. Higher education e-learning platforms have supported students in completing their degrees at home while saving time and money.

Over the past few years, e-learning has grown tremendously. And more people than ever before can now pursue an education at their own speed, thanks to the internet. The data reported below reveal the details of the e-learning market and its projected future growth.

Key Takeaways

  • The e-learning market size exceeded $315 billion in 2021.
  • 42 percent of companies that use e-learning generate more income.
  • In 2021, 27 percent of E.U. citizens aged 16 to 74 years reported participating in online courses.
  • Since 2020, 98 percent of universities have moved their classes online.
  • The global e-learning market is anticipated to climb to $400 billion by 2026.
  • Over 60 percent of German students and half of Dutch students reported that the pandemic had had a negative impact on their overall academic performance.

The Rise of the E-Learning Industry

In 2021, the e-learning market surpassed $315 billion. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) increased their reach from 300,000 to 220 million learners between 2011 and 2021.

[Arab Universities and MOOCs: Cautious Cooperation]

From 2012 to 2019, the number of students using hybrid learning at traditional universities went up by 36 percent, with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 accelerating that growth by an additional 92 percent. These figures are not surprising, given the rapid growth of e-learning in recent years.

Global Statistics

Global statistics concerning e-learning show a rise in the industry. Moreover, different studies report that adopting an online educational platform enables a better balance between work and study; others, however, don’t necessarily agree with this point.

The data presented below show what parts of the world were the most affected by e-learning and which countries show a remarkable projected future growth.

To begin with, StuDocu analyzed Google Trends for e-learning searches. As expected, the searches for this keyword spiked during the pandemic period. However, it’s worth noting that even during the post-pandemic period (July 2022), the trend is still higher than before the pandemic started.

Online Education in Europe

During the pandemic, social interactions were reduced; thus, the safest way out was to use online courses, which provide a secure substitute for education and training.

Data from Europe shows that in 2021, 27 percent of E.U. citizens ages 16 to 74 reported having taken an online course or using online learning material, a rise from 23 percent in 2020.

Ireland had the largest percentage (46%) of citizens ages 16 to 74 enrolled in online courses or accessing online learning resources in 2021. Finland and Sweden came in second, with each registering a share of 45 percent, followed by the Netherlands with 44 percent.

At the opposite end of the scale, Croatia (18%), Bulgaria (12%), and Romania (10%) were among the countries with the lowest percentages of people taking online courses or using online learning resources.

Projected Growth in Asia

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Asia e-learning market established a positive correlation strongly supported by four major factors: technology, government initiatives, blended learning, and penetration rate.

The closing of colleges, schools, and other learning institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic created numerous opportunities for e-learning, increasing its popularity among the general public.

[Interest in Online Courses Surges in the Middle East]

According to Allied Market Research, the Asia e-learning market was valued at $38.25 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $162.15 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7 percent from 2021 to 2030.

Corporate E-Learning Statistics

Given how much workers value learning and development opportunities, it should be no surprise that organizations that support their employees’ ongoing education have higher retention rates.

Corporate e-learning is here to stay. Employee training will increasingly take place online as more businesses move remote. Between 2020 and 2024, the U.S. e-learning market is anticipated to grow by $12.81 billion. Globally, the corporate e-learning market is predicted to grow by $37.8 billion from 2020 to 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent.

Consider these statistics:

  • Compared to traditional learning, corporate e-learning requires 40 percent to 60 percent less time to complete.
  • E-Learning can increase a learner’s retention rate by 25 percent to 60 percent.
  • 77 percent of businesses used e-learning in some capacity in 2017.
  • So far, 90 percent of U.S. corporations have incorporated online learning. 
  • 42% of companies that use e-learning generate more income.

Online Education at Universities

In the fall of 2020, approximately 75 percent of U.S. undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course, and 44 percent (seven million) of all undergraduate students were taking distance education courses exclusively, according to data from the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Students enrolled in at least one distance education course at the undergraduate level increased by 97 percent in 2020, compared to the previous fall before the pandemic hit (11.8 million vs. 6.0 million). The number of undergraduate students enrolled solely in distance education courses increased by 186 percent in 2020, compared to 2019 (7.0 million vs. 2.4 million).

Other data sources gave similar numbers:

In the fall of 2020, around 8.6 million college students in the United States were enrolled solely in online education courses offered by postsecondary institutions, Statista reported.

Since 2020, 98 percent of American universities have moved their classes online, according to Think Impact, and 75 percent of U.S. schools were planning to operate online in 2021.

The Impact of Digitalization on Academic Success

Approximately half of Dutch, German, and U.S. students believe Covid-19, social isolation, and long-distance schooling have positively impacted their university’s digitalization, according to a StuDocu survey titled “Changes in Student Behaviour During Covid-19.”

Students from the Netherlands and Germany saw significant improvements in their educational institutions’ digital transformation processes. Although students in all three countries surveyed believe their teachers’ or professors’ digital skills could improve, most students believe their educators do not need to upgrade their skills.

Although one-third of the Dutch and U.S. students surveyed and an additional 53% of German students spent the lockdown studying exclusively online, they have doubts about whether a fully online academic experience would suit them the best.

[Blended Learning: Finding the Right Blend for University Students]

Data also show that, of the Dutch students, three out of four felt they were more easily distracted during online classes, compared to about half of German and U.S. students. As a result, more than 60 percent of German and half of Dutch students reported that the pandemic had had a negative impact on their overall academic performance.

To address the focus and concentration issues and improve results, six out of ten students from all three countries would prefer, when possible, a hybrid form of education that combines online and physical classes.

Climate Change and Online Learning

Benefits of e-learning, including a positive impact on climate change, have proven to be very important. Faculty and staff who do not commute to campus on a daily basis and instead commute on a less frequent schedule save energy and pollution. Using electronic texts and other digital resources instead of paper handouts in class reduces the carbon footprint.

In a few words, online learning helps by reducing pollutants and emissions, cutting down on commuting and transport, limiting paper usage, and saving energy.

What the Future Holds

There is a lot of hope for the future of online education. The e-learning market had a value of just about $252 billion in 2021. The global e-learning market will reach approximately $374.3 billion by 2026. Other data predict a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent during the forecast period of 2022–2028, in addition to the 2021 value of $315 billion.

Experts predict:

  • The global e-learning market is projected to grow by $200 billion by 2026.
  • The European e-learning market is projected to grow by $28.36 billion by 2024.
  • The U.S. e-learning market is projected to grow by $21.64 billion by 2024.

The Bottom Line

Fortunately, learning is no longer restricted to old-fashioned techniques; most of it now can take place online. And that’s what makes e-learning undoubtedly to be considered the future. 

That e-learning has become more accessible thanks to data visualization and task and time management tools is another factor that demonstrates that the sector will flourish in the future.


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