#development, #e-learning
19 July 2020
Julianna Sykutera

What were the changes in e-learning development during the last 10 years?

The last decade has transformed e-learning into a new digital world for sharing knowledge. Advances in artificial intelligence, digitalization, and modern technology gave rise to educational platforms that today are widely adopted in academic and work environments. Who would have thought that the Edtech industry will today be one of the leading on the market? Let’s see what changes in e-learning development have occurred during the last 10 years. 

E-learning beginnings 

E-learning term was coined in 1999 to describe a new way to acquire knowledge through access to online educational platforms, electronic tools, and techniques. The techniques include virtual classrooms, online learning, video tutorials, interactive training, and many more. From the beginnings, e-learning was considered as a very flexible method for everyone who couldn’t get around with traditional face-to-face classes. The changes in e-learning development that have occurred during the last 10 years, expanded the list of e-learning benefits and have attracted more people to use the alternative channel. 

Changes in e-learning development 

Back in 2010, our education was based on attending classes in a traditional way. Our knowledge acquisition was limited to the information the teacher had and could get access to. The development of e-learning enabled students to connect with the outside world where they could construct new knowledge and learn more effectively

e-learning and education


In 1996, when the video game industry grew to about $15 billion, the potential to use games as a learning method was barely noticed. Gamification is simply the process of making activities more like games in order to make them more captivating and interesting. The practice started to show up in late 2010 and proved to be an effective method for enhancing user engagement and motivation. The Gamification Research Network was established later that year to provide a communication channel for researchers and students. Inserting gameplay elements in non-game settings is today a designer’s technique to provide a more valuable user experience.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

First e-learning online courses were introduced in 2011 at Stanford University. Massively Open Online Courses were available on-demand to large numbers of users via the Internet and were free of charge. That was the beginning of introducing online learning to the academic environment. The hype around MOOCs ended because of poor completion rates, however, it gave us knowledge of how to improve the idea and student retention. Today with the help of teaching assistants and modern technology we can provide great e-learning online courses. 

AR & Virtual Reality

Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) were becoming popular in 2015  after the Oculus Rift showed up on the market. The device was virtual reality goggles that bring users into a new digital environment where they can learn dynamically through real-life interaction. Since then, AR has found success in many industries and achieved some widespread commercial success with the game Pokémon Go released in 2016. Today the use of AR/VR technology in the e-learning industry continues to grow. VR allows students to experience environments outside the classroom and away from the computer providing them with a better understanding of the studied material. 


In 2017, investment in EdTech globally reached US$9.5 billion. It was 30% more than the prior year. These investments went to more than 800 companies. E-learning started to be adopted by companies to provide new employees with an onboarding process. Short tutorials and online courses were to give employees training on their first day at work. Further adoption resulted in special e-learning modules dedicated to increasing the professional knowledge of employees and managers. Today various e-learning platforms are used by companies just for maintaining the level of expertise and motivation among employees. 

Personalization & Learning Management Systems 

The development of Big data and Artificial Intelligence increased control over the shared content. E-learning companies are today able to custom the content to a given user ensuring much bigger user engagement. Personalization wouldn’t be possible if not the increase in analytical thinking and access to better statistical tools. The insight into what content a given user prefers and how a user consumes the content is crucial to e-learning companies. Nowadays, we can see an increase in Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are based on measuring the user’s activity on the platform and analysis of their online behavior. 

Mobile learning platforms 

The rapid uptake in smartphone usage has led to more platforms and e-learning apps to be available on mobile phones. The access to online lessons on one’s smartphone was a huge step towards increasing e-learning popularity. Today, it’s one of the trends in e-learning that dominates the market. The idea to give people a source of knowledge in a personalized mobile app is a game-changer to many desktop-only platforms. Surely, we will see soon more examples of mobile education. 


Changes in e-learning development caused a lot of e-learning platforms to start delivering microlearning material. Microlearning is the process of delivering bite-sized content to learners that they can consume all at once and apply the knowledge immediately. Today it is considered one of the most effective forms of learning and training as the content is delivered to learners in a convenient and easy to process form. It’s also one of the most recent techniques adopted by e-learning companies. 


Over the past decade, the evolution of EdTech has allowed eLearning to change and adapt to new technologies and skill demands. Discussing changes in e-learning development helps us understand more the learning environment and the audience to which e-learning platforms are created. We can easily notice that some of the changes became fundamentals for current e-learning trends that will stay with us for a little longer. 

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