Today, I’m taking a rewind virtual journey back in time to revisit an intriguing blog post from 2016 that I wrote. The original article discussed the promises and potential pitfalls of eLearning. Join me on this retrospective exploration as we uncover what the real world has revealed about eLearning in the seven years since that post.

The Discovery

As I stumbled on my own pieces of writing, I went over a blog that put forth meticulously detailed the promises and challenges associated with eLearning, shedding light on a revolution that was gradually reshaping the world of education. The post was filled with optimism, enthusiasm, and cautionary notes, making it a fascinating read for anyone interested in the evolution of eLearning.

The Time Warp

The blog post painted a picture of a rapidly growing eLearning market, with a projection of $51.5 billion by 2016. For the futuristics in us, the global e-learning market size is expected to grow from $245.5 billion in 2022 to $278 billion in 2023, at a CAGR of more than 13%. By 2027, the market is projected to reach $462.6 billion, growing at a CAGR of more than 13%North America was the largest region in the global e-learning market report in 2022. I’m excited to assess how accurate that predictions from 2016 were was and whether the eLearning landscape continued to flourish as foreseen.

Promises and Pitfalls

We had originally highlighted ten potential benefits of eLearning, ranging from self-paced learning and flexibility to personalization and gamification. These aspects formed the bedrock of the eLearning revolution, and I’m eager to discover how they’ve fared over the years.

Let’s delve into each of these aspects of eLearning and explore the latest evidence-based discussions and data as of no later than 2020:

Self-Paced Learning:

Self-paced learning has seen significant growth. Research conducted by eLearning Industry in 2019 indicated that learners prefer self-paced courses, with 92% of them favoring this approach. This trend aligns with the promise of eLearning. Additionally, the development of AI-driven adaptive learning systems has made self-paced learning more effective. These systems can analyze learner data and provide customized content and recommendations, enhancing the self-paced experience.


The flexibility of eLearning has continued to evolve. Many institutions have adapted to offer asynchronous learning options, allowing students to choose when and where they engage with course materials. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this shift, forcing educational institutions to enhance their online offerings. According to a study by Educause Review, more institutions have started to prioritize flexible learning options to accommodate diverse student needs.

Anywhere, Anytime Learning:

Learning from anywhere and at any time has become a reality for many. The widespread adoption of mobile devices and improved internet connectivity has made access to learning materials more accessible. In response to the demand for anytime, anywhere learning, educational content providers and institutions have invested in mobile-friendly, responsive design and user-friendly interfaces. However, challenges like the cost of producing rich media content persist, and this area requires continued attention.

Personalized Learning:

Personalized learning remains a significant trend in education. Adaptive learning technologies, fueled by AI, have made strides in tailoring educational content to individual learner characteristics. Data analytics and AI algorithms help identify student strengths and weaknesses, allowing for a more customized learning experience. However, concerns about lowering expectations in personalized learning still exist, and further research is needed to fine-tune these models and address these issues.


E-Learning has continued to be a cost-effective alternative to traditional education. Research conducted by Babson Survey Group in 2019 found that, on average, online courses are less expensive than traditional, in-person courses. Many online programs offer financial aid options and scholarships, contributing to affordability. However, the overall cost-effectiveness may vary by institution and program, and concerns about hidden costs remain important to address.


Accessibility in eLearning has improved, but challenges persist. E-Learning platforms have made strides in designing resources with accessibility in mind, including features such as standardized keyboard navigation and text sizing configurations. However, the digital divide in terms of internet access and device ownership remains a significant issue, especially for K-12 education. Ensuring equal access for all learners continues to be a goal that requires ongoing efforts.

Adaptive Learning:

Adaptive learning technology has improved student outcomes. Research by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that adaptive learning technologies can help students learn more in less time. These technologies provide personalized content and feedback, enabling students to focus on areas where they need improvement. The data-driven approach of adaptive learning systems has proven to be effective.


Online degrees have gained more recognition and credibility, particularly in certain fields and industries. Many employers have become more accepting of online degrees, especially from reputable institutions. However, recognition can still depend on the field and the specific employer. E-Learning from renowned institutions such as MIT, Stanford, and Yale has played a role in enhancing the reputation of online education.


E-Learning has contributed to greater equity in education but with caveats. While it has the potential to bridge educational gaps, the digital divide remains a challenge, particularly at K-12 levels. The cost of translation and the availability of qualified manpower and infrastructure are concerns. Equity in eLearning is more pronounced at higher education levels, assuming generality of content and foreign language skills are alike.


Gamification has become an integral part of eLearning. Many online courses and platforms incorporate gamification elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards to engage learners. These features make learning interactive and fun, keeping students motivated. However, as mentioned in the original post, concerns about “pointsification” exist, and it’s essential to continually innovate to keep learners engaged.

The Reality Check

In the five years since the original blog post, the world has witnessed unprecedented events, including the global COVID-19 pandemic. The education landscape has transformed, with eLearning taking center stage as schools, colleges, and universities adapted to remote learning. However, this shift has also brought its unique set of challenges and opportunities.

The promises of eLearning have largely been realized and evolved positively. Technology, including AI and adaptive learning, has played a significant role in enhancing the effectiveness of eLearning. Flexibility and accessibility have improved, although challenges persist. Personalized learning and gamification have become more prevalent. E-Learning’s affordability and recognition have also grown. However, addressing equity and ensuring equal access for all learners remains an ongoing endeavor.


This journey back in time serves as a reality check, aiming to answer the questions: How have these eLearning promises held up in the real world? What has changed, and what remains the same? Join me in the coming weeks as we dive into each of these promises, backed by real-world evidence, to see if eLearning truly lived up to its potential or if there are areas that still require improvement. The eLearning landscape is ever-evolving, and this journey will uncover the latest developments, trends, and challenges that have shaped the world of digital education.

We are also bringing in the new projections for the next 5 years that will shape the way eLearning and Education technology evolves. Don’t forget to bookmark and subscribe to our posts for latest updates.