How to develop an effective growth strategy in the world of e-learning?

The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus was the shake-up of how people live and how companies evolve. It affected many aspects, those include a drastic rise in remote work, limiting or changing the way of socialising with others, minimising movement and public gatherings.

One of the effects of this pandemic is a change in how people teach and learn. Primary and secondary schools, universities and other education institutions (e.g. language schools, business training centres) in many countries were forced to move their operations to the web. Such transition, especially without previous experience and right tools could end with a catastrophe. The situation is even worse for commercial institutions, where the satisfaction of students and attracting the best teachers / trainers equal business success.

Today, e-learning is an excellent opportunity for many institutions for their further dynamic growth. However, to achieve success in this field, institutions need to prepare processes, tools and people for this specific form of online communication. So, how can you adapt your institution to meet the high demands of e-learning set by its users? What can you do today to be able to develop in this business tomorrow?

The teaching process is just different

It is the one thing that all education practitioners and experts would repeat over and over again: nothing is like teaching.

First, during classes or a course, there is this bizarre situation when the most active and central person is not the one the whole thing is all about. The teacher / trainer is there for students, and his role is to coordinate and facilitate their progress. Therefore, it is essential to have perfect contact with the group and have a good overview of the whole situation. For example, those students who need the most attention because they do not understand new material or lack the confidence to express their opinions freely, are usually the quietest and hardest to notice.

Second, effective teaching always requires a mix of various techniques. They include for example lectures, solving tasks by students alone or in a group, open discussion in the whole class, work with handbook and other materials, homework and – of course – tests and exams checking student’s progress. All of them should be used in different ways and proportion depending on the subject and students’ age group. The teacher / trainer needs to have access to those different functionalities and ease to jump from one to another. On top of that, for e-learning courses, the quality and speed of data transmission need to be perfect, and the teacher / trainer must have control over everything that is happening, just like in a physical classroom. Only when those conditions are met, students will grow and will be satisfied, and teachers / trainers will be able to utilise their experience and passion most effectively.

Third, if we talk about e-learning, there are many solutions in use nowadays. Some of them are general tools for online communication or remote work, and they do not have functionalities specific for the needs of the e-learning market. Other tools are designed for education, but it is still challenging to address all diversified needs that are necessary to provide full education process. The situation is even more complicated if we take into consideration how many different age groups take part in the education process and how different might be the teaching subjects. Handy e-learning tools need to be based on the understanding of the complicity of the distance learning market.

The future of e-learning

Today the demand for remote teaching and learning solutions is growing. However, this exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus epidemy will pass, and the new era for e-learning will start right after. Confusion, stress and sometimes even chaos caused today by an artificially accelerated transition to remote teaching that we witness, clearly show how much remains to be done in this area. Many business opportunities await those in the e-learning industry who are ready to take this challenge. Someone who wants to succeed in e-learning needs to act today to be prepared for tomorrow. Many vital questions concerning what is most needed now and how to keep a new customer base in the future remain open.

Set yourself in the pole position

Do you want to be well prepared for what this COVID-19 crisis will bring and enter the market race in the world of e-learning from the pole position? If you don’t have relevant experience or proved tools, we invite you to benefit from CIVITTA expertise in the area of market research and business consulting.

To share our experience and support your company in further development, we present below the most critical questions that need to be answered to create and implement an effective growth strategy.

1. What are the customer segments and their needs?

Although some elements of the teaching process are common to all segments, some of them are unique and depend on the teaching techniques used, subjects taught and the operations of educational institutions. Running afternoon language school is something entirely different to managing science department at a university, where the biggest focus is on teaching advanced mathematics. And the lesson for adult auditorium can’t even compare to teaching in primary school. These just two examples prove that the differences in customer segments on the e-learning market are significant. So, anyone who wants to succeed in distance teaching must recognise clients’ segments, understand the needs of each group and tailor the e-learning offer to them.

Technology companies need to offer targeted products and market strategies designed for both the whole industry and single segments of the online teaching market. And their clients must select the solutions that are answering their individual needs.

2. How to prepare your product to meet market demands?

E-learning products need to provide with functionalities that facilitate learning and must be fully reliable from the perspective of students, teachers and education managers (e.g. schools’ principals, institutions’ managers and company owners). Whereas current turmoil and increased demand for e-learning distort the real situation and market needs, it is also the best time to get your market feedback and opinions, since the e-learning user base has grown and became more diversified. Using this opportunity and reacting in time is a way to keep the users even after the current crisis pass.

3. What kind of additional services might be attractive for your e-learning audience?

Sometimes a straight-forward product is not enough, and some additional accompanying offer might need to be added in order to attract the customers. Today there is not much time for product choice, but once the situation stabilises, more exact comparisons will start, and those will define purchasing decisions.

Librus, the polish provider of software for schools, is building its market position as a tool supporting traditional education process, for example by offering cloud tools for parents to monitor their children results and communicate with the school. Another example may be that offers moving physical teaching to the online world and thus provides possibilities to use handbooks both in digital, interactive form, as well as offline after document download. Here we have two diverse offers and two various approaches. Without proper research, it is difficult to determine which strategy will bring long-term success.

4. What is the competitive landscape?

Many tools are offered, and various companies operate on the e-learning market. There are global tech giants such as Google, offering Google Classroom – application operating in G Suite environment, or Cisco’s Webex – general communication tool with some e-learning functionalities. An interesting example is Zoom – video conference application that is used also in the education context. We also have more specialised, EdTech players, such as Adobe Captive or Nearpod, designed especially for online teaching. Sometimes the specialisation goes even further, and the tools are created for a particular target group (e.g. regarding geographic context), such as above-mentioned Librus, developed to meet the needs of polish schools.

Detailed knowledge of the competitive environment is key to implementing the right market strategy and competing effectively. The more the market is complex and nuanced, the more valuable it is to understand it.

5. How to position yourself on the market?

A good e-learning product is not enough. Market success is impossible without a powerful and resonating story. An interesting case in the aspect of market positioning is Khan Academy. It is a free education platform with a noble mission – “to provide free, high-quality education for everyone, everywhere and always”. Such a tool can be priceless for people from remote parts of the world and indigent social groups. With this positioning, Khan Academy attracted support and funding from some of the largest global charity organisations to develop its offer and reach even further.

6. Which sales strategy would be most effective?

E-learning offer should be matched to expectations and specifics of the users. Market analysis is a must to choose the most appropriate sales channels and pricing model for your e-learning solution. We should remember that everyone is interested in distance learning solution in times of quarantine caused by the epidemic, but this strong inflow of interest and customers will pass. So, it is better to get ready for the post-crisis reality and work on long-term strategy today when the situation is favourable.

7. How to prepare your organisation for digital transformation?

Education institutions cannot wait to start operating online. This process of digital transformation includes not only finding proper tools but also requires applying new modes of conduct and organisational changes as well as a new approach when it comes to developing the educational offer and marketing communication.

Many companies in the education industry had started preparations for an online transformation even before the COVID-19 crisis and entered the crisis on various stages of digitisation. The pandemic has accelerated this growth dramatically.

Current, temporary solutions have a chance to persist for some time, but we should not expect satisfactory results without developing a proper implementation strategy. To move your organisation successfully into the new era, ad hoc implementation of some tools is not enough. The digital transformation process needs to be accompanied with, for example, appropriate training and mechanisms that ensure and maintain the full use of tools and opportunities they provide now and they should provide in the years to come.

Take action today to boost your business in the world of e-learning tomorrow!

In order not to expose yourself to problems in the near future, it is worth adopting a proactive attitude and starting to act today – collect and analyse data, develop a growth strategy and thus prepare for upcoming challenges in the e-learning segment.

We invite you to contact CIVITTA experts who may help you obtain reliable market data and based on them answer all questions leading to finish this race as the e-learning leader.