Types of Online Learning Platforms

Online learning refers to any kind of learning content that is delivered in a virtual environment. Online learning can be video-based, either live or self-paced, taking place in a one-on-one or group setting. No longer outdated and dreary, rapid technological advancements have aided in the adoption of new-age modes of learning like e-learning, mobile learning, and blended learning and gamification. What was a growing trend a couple of years ago is now the new normal as educational institutions have realized the immense value in leveraging digital technologies to enhance learning and student development. There are different types of e-learning platforms that serve as an integrated system that can provide stakeholders with the necessary resources to create educational content and facilitate superior content delivery and educational management.

The global e-learning market is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2027, at a CAGR of 21%. India has emerged as the second-biggest market after the US, due to a rapid increase in active internet users. Edtech companies like BYJU’s and Unacademy are transforming the way Indians gain knowledge. Moreover, the government’s NEP 2020 has pushed for online learning to modernize and digitally transform the Indian education sector. To stay ahead of the curve, several institutions have invested heavily in several types of online learning platforms to upgrade and digitize their education infrastructure.

In a teeming edtech market, there are multitudes of e-learning platforms to choose from. Educational institutions must carefully consider the types of online learning platforms available and choose the one that is uniquely suited to their institution's requirements.  

There are several types of online learning platforms :

Learning Management System (LMS)

The learning management system is the most popular type of e-learning platform. Essentially, this is a software application that enables the development and deployment of online learning content. The first LMS was invented in 1924, by Sidney Pressey, of Ohio State University and was widely considered to be the first teaching machine. It looked like a typewriter with a window that offered multiple-choice questions and practical exercises. Today, modern LMS versions can also automate a host of functions including enrollment, marketing, tracking, reporting, documentation, evaluation, administration while serving as a single, secure location for all data.

Although the learning management system first emerged in the higher education industry, it has become massively popular in the corporate sector. Companies can automate their onboarding and training process for newcomers and employees as an LMS serves a singular knowledge base that provides access to information regarding company products, compliance regulations, geographically customized communications policies, etc.

The global LMS market is poised to reach $27 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 15.8%. Adoption rates have been increasing with the Indian learning management system set to experience tremendous growth, at a 20.58% CAGR, from 2021 to 2026. Top learning management system software offered by ed-tech leaders like Ken42 provides an all-encompassing solution for both educational and corporate institutions.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

As the name suggests, MOOCs are large-scale, all-access, online learning courses with interactive content. MOOCs provide learners with easy access to a huge number of learning courses that have specific learning outcomes. They don’t need to send in application forms or go through any admissions process to sign up for a course that interests them. This platform facilitates distance learning and provides an opportunity for anyone to learn a new concept and pick up a new skill by signing up for a self-paced course from a myriad of subjects to choose from.

The whole idea behind MOOCs was to take an entire university course, making it accessible to anyone. MOOCs were meant to democratize access to high-quality educational content from elite universities and allow learners from across the globe to access that content. Early on MOOCs were connectivist (cMOOCs), where groups of people learned together, using blogs and online networking platforms to connect, collaborate and share content openly. In recent times, extended MOOCs or xMOOCs have taken center stage, shifting to a more knowledge duplication objective. Here, learning is based on a traditional classroom structure, with a clear delineation between the educator and learner. Learning is mainly video-based, with clearly specified learning objectives and assessments to gain a certificate of completion.

Although MOOCs were initially free of cost, their commercialization has led to MOOC providers adding either significant portions or their entire course library behind a paywall. Most companies allow courses to be audited for free, sans certificates, following a freemium model, to cash in on the exponential demand for MOOCs.  

Udemy, Coursera, and edX are among the biggest players in the market with the latter two having partnered with the Ivies and other top universities to provide high-quality, globally recognized courses featuring expert faculty members.

Learner Experience Platform (LXP)

A learner experience platform is a newer, more intuitive version of the LMS that has been gaining popularity with corporates. Breaking away from the rigidity of courses offered on LMSs, learners have access to highly curated content, based on their current role, credentials, and interests. They can choose the content that will help achieve their objectives at that particular point in time. Unlike traditional LMS learning courses, learners can select the specific information that they are interested in learning about while skipping the rest of the course content.

LXPs also have more advanced analytics capabilities that can provide a detailed view about the impact of the course on training, including the time spent learning, skill gaps before and after learning, number of attempts made to pass assessments allowing administrators to identify trends and improve their course content accordingly. LXPs have become a valuable tool to gain new knowledge and skills, aiding in career advancement all while providing a more personalized and engaging learning experience. LinkedIn Learning and EdCast are examples of companies that use this type of online learning platform.

Custom-built Online Learning Platform

This type of e-learning platform is built from scratch based on the institution’s needs. It will require a great deal of participation from the institution’s side to provide specifications about their goals and objectives. Companies like Ken42 can provide custom-built learning platform solutions for educational institutions including schools, universities, and coaching institutes, and provide highly advanced end-to-end software solutions for companies seeking to transform their training process and enhance their employee onboarding experience.