Business Transformation

Growth in Online Learning Since The Covid Pandemic

In late 2019, I wrote a report on the future of the adult learning industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic made dramatic impacts to the education sector from February 2020 onwards – causing a huge surge in the popularity of online learning.

And it’s only just the beginning of this booming industry.

Why are online courses in such high demand right now?

The online education sector has been dramatically increasing in popularity particularly over the past 5 years as distance, blended and self-study online learning has become mainstream and familiar.

The online education industry was predicted to triple between 2020 and 2025, but with the impacts of COVID causing a tidal wave of e-learning demand, the sector is reporting this level of growth already since January 2020 alone.

My own education company has seen a massive 255% increase in student enrolments since COVID.   Going from 16,974 enrolments on 1st January 2020, to 60,340 enrolments between 31st Jan- 1st Nov 2020; and I’m not the only one.

Online course marketplaces like Udemy have seen a more than 400% increase in student enrolments since COVID;  Learning Management Sofware providers like Thinkific have seen enrolments in some of their client course sectors increase by more than 2,000% and formal institutions forced more than 300 million students to go online since January 2020.

Aside from the lockdowns, the e-learning industry was already growing in popularity  and continues to do so for the following top reasons:

  • Accessibility: The lack of geographical boundaries makes online learning possible for anyone, anywhere.
  • Flexibility of delivery and learning experience: whether its purely self-study, coach-facilitated, one on one, group-centric, or somewhere in between, there is a mode of online delivery that suits every learning preference.
  • Cost: without the overheads of training venues, resources, travel and trainer time, the costs of providing online learning is minimal.  This means that the costs to the student can be reduced, allowing many to engage that would not have had the opportunity otherwise – whilst simultaneously opening up a bigger market to the course owner.
  • Community: As we have become accustomed to networking and relationship building online, online learning communities and social learning has become extremely popular.  Using inbuilt ‘communities’ in a learning management system like Thinkific, ‘Zoom Rooms’ or Facebook groups is facilitating and even replacing face to face social learning.
  • Time and deadlines: Online learning is a much more flexible way for people to learn.  Without strict deadlines or set times to turn up to classes, it is a much more attractive method of learning for many people who have other life commitments such as jobs, businesses, families or are in different time zones to the provider.
  • Up to date: Online courses are easier to update, change and add further content to; meaning that they are always far more up to date and relevant than a cumbersome face to face traditional course.

What if you are a new online course creator?


You are now entering a recession-proof, pandemic-proof, rapidly growing and highly profitable industry.

I teach you the 10 steps of creating a highly successful online course in my FREE Course Creation Starter Kit.  however, if I was to give you one little piece of advice right now it would be this:

Start small.  

Micro-learning is becoming increasingly popular as time-restricted consumers search online for the answers to highly specific questions.

A learning resource that offers the answer to their specific question is not only more likely to come up top in their search results, but is far likely to to be the resource they consume.

It is also much easier to learn the step by step process of online course creation by creating a mini-course, rather than completely overwhelm yourself with a huge authority flagship course your first time around.

What are some pitfalls successful creators should be careful to avoid?

The great thing about creating online courses is that it is largely a creative process that has no real ‘right or wrong’ to it.

However, there are still good practices to follow and mistakes to avoid.

Here are a quick two for you:

Avoid the trap of perfection: 

Online learners want the answers to their questions, not a Hollywood production.

You don’t need to be a perfect newsreader, look like Angelina Jolie or hold a Professorship to be a highly successful course creator.  All you need to do is share what you know with passion.

Don’t make a course for everyone:  

If you try to catch two rabbits you’ll catch now, as they say.

Pick a micro-niche, a highly specific target market that your course will be for, EVEN if your course could help ‘everyone’.

This makes it much easier for you to find, attract, engage with and market to that particular segment of people and as such will significantly increase the success of your course.

It’s super easy to then duplicate your course and just tweak the title and change the sales page copy to then target another specific segment – and so you grow.

Written by Sarah Cordiner.

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Sarah Cordiner
Sarah Cordiner is an author, qualified trainer, thought leader, professional keynote speaker and workshop host in Edu-preneurship, Edu-marketing, Entrepreneurship, Efficacy and Education. She helps authors, experts, and business owners turn their expertise into profitable online courses.

Sarah Cordiner is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.