Online Education

“On-line studying continues to be in its infancy”

Spaniard and American by nationality and French culture, Sidney Thorel is the chairman of the British Pearson group, a world leader in learning through textbooks and online education.

Do you think the health crisis and restrictions will change the world of education forever?

Yes. The pandemic has changed the way we work, live and learn, forcing us to look for new and better methods. Learning is the key to this evolution and to all the possibilities it brings. Look at the speed and scale with which this learning has moved online, as well as the growing demand for new digital forms of learning.

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In this knowledge market we now live in, the world of work is changing faster than most workers. This phenomenon creates a huge need for retraining and advanced training. It is estimated that 30% of current jobs in all sectors obsolete by 2030, and the vast majority of the rest will be transformed by automation. Governments, employers and the wider education community must work in partnership to address these pressing productivity and skills challenges. This is a huge bet.

What is the size and growth potential of the global e-learning market?

The digital learning market is still in its infancy; it is estimated to represent only 3% of the around €6 trillion global training market. As a global leader, Pearson is well positioned to capitalize on the tremendous opportunity that comes with learning becoming more digital. Today, almost three-quarters of its turnover (4 billion euros in 2020) is directly or indirectly generated online. The transition to online learning was taking place even before the pandemic, and this has greatly increased the demand for quality products and services remotely and on a large scale. We believe that this strong trend will continue in the future.

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What lessons should e-learning learn from previous limitations?

We see a commitment to quality. It is increasingly recognized that the provision of large-scale online learning materials and services requires experience, investment and the application of pedagogical science. Successful virtual learning allows the student to use the material at their convenience, with the flexibility to combine synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous experiences, independent work and interaction with the teacher.

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