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E-learning industry is booming

By Samantha Howells

The worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth 325 billion dollars by 2025. The market will have nearly doubled in a decade.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two of the technologies that are taking e-learning to the next level by creating a more engaging, entertaining and interactive user experience.

VR isn’t new; it’s actually been a thing for around 20 years. Touted as The Future and The Next Big Thing, it was a revolution that never really happened - largely due to the technology being too expensive to be mainstream. 

Now the transformative technologies that were out of reach on the horizon for most of us – are finally a reality. Virtual worlds in entertainment, communication and computing are shaping up to be part of our everyday lives. Think the new Lion King – a remake of the animated classic “shot” in 360-degree virtual environments.

Technology-led learning is vital to the region’s economy. Thanks to investment in VR technology in higher education, more opportunities to use immersive computing are opening for students and businesses in Shropshire. 

Telford College launched its £750,000 virtual reality suite in December. The cutting-edge immersive virtual and augmented reality teaching aids and software packages include a virtual reality ‘cave’ which can transport you into a learning or working environment anywhere in the world, recreating any climate, or environment.

University Centre Shrewsbury has a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund called Digital Solutions which has access to a number of VR resources. These are available for use by eligible companies based in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

VR training applications are still at the early stage of implementation but have strong potential in enterprise and education.

Students wearing VR headsets can experience high-quality education visualizations that have a positive impact on the whole learning experience. VR can help students digest and retain complex information at a much higher rate.

Businesses are increasingly using VR to provide immersive training environments, accurately simulate risky situations, and avoid costly travel and equipment-related expenses of more traditional training methods.

Industries with high-risk working environments such as energy, manufacturing and construction are the early adopters of VR training applications.

Managers working in dangerous industries can use VR safety training in a safe cost-effective environment to ensure employees detect hazards and minimize potential risks. 

As the advantages of VR investment become more obvious to the corporate world, this technology will realize its great potential. 

Tech giants Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony have all launched VR hardware at affordable prices; as costs continue to become more attractive for companies the uptake of VR will continue to improve corporate learning outcomes.

If development capacity can meet demand by 2025, it’s predicted that VR could represent up to one-third of the value of the current e-learning market in the UK. The VR revolution is finally here . . . well, virtually.

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