Students, working and non-working adults around the world have been at home now for over two months due to the COVID19 shelter in place orders.  As a result of extended homestays, massive job cuts, and displaced college and high school students, the world has seen a major surge in online education over the last 2 months.

Surging Interest in Online Education — Class Central
Note the spike in searches for online education and online classes. (source: classcentral.com)

As an example, during the 2 week period from March 7 to March 21, as many around the world began settling into the thought of staying at home for many weeks, Google queries for “online classes” increased by over 200% and queries for “online education” saw a 90% increase.

No one would ever wish for COVID19 in a million years. However, the massive increase in demand for online courses is, dare we say, a “silver lining” for those finding themselves in need of reskilling, upskilling, continuation of their education, distraction, or simply, entertainment.

It is especially beneficial for teachers and experts looking for an additional income in these very uncertain times.

One positive outcome out of all of this tragedy is that, when faced with time on their hands, or worse, unemployment, many in the world are choosing to continue learning and improving, and can do so because they have easy, affordable access to an online education platform like Udemy.

Udemy Report Examines COVID19 Impact on Online Education

Udemy recently took a look at online education trends from the last couple of months and published their findings in a report “Online Education Steps Up”.

Here are the high-level statistics on course enrollments since February, when stay at home orders began for many around the world.

  • Consumer course enrollments: +425%
  • Courses created: +55%
  • Business/government usage: +80%

Where are the largest increases in Udemy enrollments?

It will come as little surprise perhaps, given the degree of impact of COVID19 locally, that Italy, the UK and Spain were the three countries with the largest increase in enrollments.  

Italy topped the charts with a 320% increase in enrollments, the UK with 292%, and Spain saw a 280% increase.

Regardless of geography, Udemy enrollments have skyrocketed.

What is the world learning and where? 

When I take courses or learn online, it’s usually for hobbies or things I like to do in my free time. But as of recently, work is a motivator because there are times that I need to learn something right at that moment, like using Zoom.” – 32 year old female student, Mexico

As this female student explains, there are many reasons to go onto Udemy right now.  So what are some of the topics people are turning to Udemy for?

They are very diverse in fact, and some of the topics with the most interest may surprise you. The biggest increase was for  “Technical Drawing”, which has seen a 920% surge in demand. That’s a great example of how targeting a niche Topic on Udemy can pay off.

With over 1 billion kids stuck at home, courses that keep them entertained and educated were high in demand.

Unsurprisingly courses that target lifestyle and stress-reduction saw large enrollment increases. These included Ukulele (+292%), Pilates (+402%), Meditation (+111%).

The usual top-ranked tech course Topics such as Web Development and Data Science have also seen interest with enrollments up 60% and 58%, respectively.

Udemy also took a look at different countries around the world and analyzed what consumers are studying in different geographies. Here are some examples of what they found for the most popular course topics.

Stock trading/financial analysis

  • Canada: +273%
  • France: +223%
  • Mexico: +235%

Character Animation

  • UK: +332%
  • Australia: +185%

Graphics

  • Italy: +347%
  • USA: + 326%

Piano

  • Spain: +466%
  • Australia +168%

Communication

  • India: +606%

How many and what kinds of new courses are being added to Udemy?

Of course, if you’re a Udemy instructor or if you’re stuck at home and considering becoming one, you’ll want to know if you’ve got a shot at generating some income.

Udemy speculates that the recent 55% uptick in course creation could be the result of several factors: having additional free time; needing a way to move in-person teaching online, or working to supplement or replace lost income.

Judging by the mix of the highest-ranking course categories in terms of new content, it’s likely all three of these factors is likely contributing to new content creation.

Office productivity saw the biggest increase of 159%.  No surprise there, suddenly everyone’s working from home with kids on their lap, having to master Zoom 101, and deal with spotty wifi.

With everyone at home idly binge-watching Netflix and with gyms closed, Health and Fitness instructors have come to the rescue or sought to sustain their income, fueling an 84% increase in Health/Fitness related courses. 

Next in line for course creation was IT and Software with a 77% increase in courses.  Again, with so much time on their hands, and with some techies perhaps laid off, they are giving online course creation a shot.

Other popular course creation Topics included Personal Development (+61%), Teaching and Academics (+58%), Business (+56%), and Music (+55%).

What about Udemy for Business?

The 80% increase in usage by businesses and government in a time where many businesses find themselves shuttered is intriguing.  It’s likely due to the shuttering of offices and storefronts, and subsequent layoffs that demand is exploding.

For example, in-person training, onboarding and other corporate events have to be moved online. There’s likely an increased need to upskill and cross-train existing employees to address layoffs of other employees, reorganizations, and remote working arrangements.

In addition, it seems that some companies are offering Udemy for Business as a parting gift to employees they have had to let go. Presumably, the hope is that these newly unemployed workers will be able to find ways to reskill or upskill for new jobs and carry on with a growth mindset in spite of this setback.

What are employees learning on Udemy?

A few months ago, we wrote an article that told how “having a growth mindset” was the most important soft skill employers are looking for in 2020. Little did we know then that employees would be put to the test to demonstrate this critical skill with the advent of the COVID19 pandemic.

As we also speculated in a previous article 10 Personal Development Skills Courses to Create in 2020 personal development courses have been hot topics for employees transitioning to remote work and for those who are looking to spend time improving themselves in the face of uncertainty around future employment.

Popular employee Topics include Coaching (+322%), Self Discipline (+237%), Resilience (+236%), and Stress Management (+235%).  Are you sensing a familiar theme here?  

If you’re looking to capitalize on the work from home trend, you may want to consider offering any expertise that can help people manage all the uncertainty workers are surrounded with now on a daily basis.

Other topics that employers such as Booz Allen see employees tackling as they adjust to new ways of working include courses that help with problem-solving, productivity, and working virtually.

Will the newfound demand for online education continue?

That’s the million-dollar (or is it a million students?) question. Is this surge in interest for online courses temporary, or, are we finally experiencing a paradigm shift in education that many have forecast for years?

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) “the COVID19 pandemic has changed education forever.”  

WEF research suggests that there are big benefits to online learning that people around the world are now experiencing.

For instance, online learning has been shown to increase the retention of information learned than in traditional classroom settings. It also takes a lot less time to learn the same material in an online setting.

The reality of more than 1 billion children having experienced online learning for an extended period is that those children, some of which will soon be adults, have been exposed to new ways of learning and teaching that they will not forget. 

Add to this the millions of adults who have been exposed to the benefits and economic value of online learning for a prolonged period. It would be hard to argue that the previous prediction of the online education market reaching $350 billion by 2025 should not be revised upward.

Udemy for one submits in its new report that it believes that

“…the move to online learning will be sustained over time as learners, teachers, and businesses continue to find value and new applications for online courses to enhance both their personal and professional lives.”

WEF agrees, saying,

What has been made clear through this pandemic is the importance of disseminating knowledge across borders, companies, and all parts of society. If online learning technology can play a role here, it is incumbent upon all of us to explore its full potential.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

Are you considering creating an online course on Udemy to supplement or replace lost income? 

Try Teachinguide’s free 7-day trial and find out which course niches are in demand and how you can compete!

Stay well!

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