How COVID-19 has affected the training industry

Is online learning just a trend, or will it continue well beyond COVID? How is the market responding to the increase of webinar and eLearning courses on offer? Our friend at Arlo Software, an award-winning training management system, surveyed hundreds of training providers and analysed market trends to find out how COVID-19 has affected the training industry.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the training industry due to the restrictions of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, training providers scrambled to cancel face-to-face courses and provide credits or refunds to customers, with no surety on when they would be able to reschedule. But the savvy ones pivoted quickly – modifying existing courses to live online webinar, on-demand, eLearning and blended delivery formats. 

How are training providers responding to COVID?

When COVID hit, Arlo had more than 40,000 courses scheduled in the system by their training provider customers. The majority of these were face-to-face, but the TMS already had the ability to create webinars, set-up webinars from existing events, sell recorded webinars and deliver eLearning courses with partner integrations such as Learnbook. Paired with the ability to transfer registrants from a face-to-face to a webinar course and send automated emails and SMS advising of changes, Arlo customers were able to adapt quickly.

And many did. 

One Arlo customer, IRI Australia, traditionally offered face-to-face courses but was one of the savvy ones who worked quickly to move online. They prioritized courses that give them the “most bang for our buck”, and also looked at their existing course materials to see what they could quickly and easily repurpose for online delivery – for example any existing videos or self-based materials. As a result, they saw a record number of registrations for their new live online webinar and self-paced eLearning courses. 

“We’ve never had as many requests for self-paced courses. As we return to normality, it will be interesting to assess whether or not virtual delivery holds interest past COVID-19, when face-to-face will resume.” Says IRI Solutions Training Manager Margarita Sanding. 

Similarly, Safe Beginnings Canada switched their regular face-to-face courses to live webinars via Zoom within a week of the pandemic being declared. The goal was to retain some of their existing registrations from the cancelled classroom courses and to keep their business operating through lockdown. What they didn’t expect was that the online learning option would draw registrations from the USA and Europe – effectively expanding the business globally. 

How is the market responding to COVID?

Arlo’s industry survey shows record numbers of registrations for live online courses, with 12,094 registrations in the first week of May compared to 1,488 in the first week of March, before COVID hit.

“The most heartening thing about these numbers is not that training providers pivoted quickly to offer live online courses, but that the market responded positively to the change”, says Arlo CEO John Mitchell. 

Google Trends data shows that searches for terms such as “online learning”, “webinar”, “online course” and “eLearning” have more than tripled in popularity in recent months, which in itself shows that people are keen to engage in online learning. History shows us that people turn to education in times of economic uncertainty – whether it be for upskilling, offsetting the impact of job losses, regaining a sense of control or having more spare time –  and this has created a unique opportunity for training providers.

Supporting this trend, Arlo’s most read blog articles in the previous six months include “Technical tips for hosting a webinar”, “6 ways to engage your audience in a live online webinar” and “The why and how of blended learning”. 

What will the training industry look like post-COVID?

Arlo’s industry survey shows live online and blended learning are the future of the industry – well beyond COVID. More than half of the surveyed training providers believe there will be a greater demand for blended and eLearning, and nearly 80% believe there will be greater demand for live online webinars.

Arlo CEO John Mitchell agrees with this prediction and adds “an eLearning subscription model is the way of the future for training providers, particularly for continued professional development such as that of an accountant.”

In summary, what we’re seeing is that COVID-19 has completely changed the world as we know it, causing major disruption to many businesses. For the training industry, we can count ourselves among the lucky ones – we have viable options in webinar and eLearning, to continue operating during these challenging times.

Additionally, blended learning is the most effective way to scale your business, increase course capacity, and charge more money – all while increasing accessibility and knowledge retention for learners. To find out more about blended learning for training providers, check out the Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning.

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