Technological advancements have led to the growth of the internet and the revolution of the digital platforms for various economies. The emergence of e-learning businesses has not only impacted on the education sector but also on the way firms carry out their operations. The fruits of e-learning in education can be seen clearly in the just-in-time learning and flexibility in teaching modules. The management and operation of firm’s activities have been boosted by the various training and development activities arising from e-learning. The innovation has spread as well as globalized various economies. However, despite all these, e-learning businesses still face some major challenges such as lack of infrastructure and slow growth in ICT sector among developing economies.
The digital economy presently plays a significant role as a preeminent driver of economic change as well as societal growth. The digital economy is characterized by advancements in technology such as informatics, computers and communications among others (Brynjolfsson 2002, p.1). The digital era has led to better delivery of services, quality products as well as better investment in research activities. The concept of internet and e-commerce has introduced a new dimension for business platforms leading to innovative and strategic measures for investments. The globalization process has been made a success through the use of the internet. Investors and other entrepreneurs have thus taken the initiative to innovate business practices such as internet businesses or commerce that have impacted widely on the global economics. The evolution of e- learning businesses has played a critical role in the growth of international trade and development of the global economics and education. The digital platform has influenced the speed with which firms have matched their strategic operations to fit in the global market especially on matters relating to online businesses and learning. For instance, technological companies such as the Microsoft and Apple have relied heavily on digital platforms as well as the online marketing to boost their sales and marketing strategies. The research relies entirely on secondary sources where a theoretical framework is analyzed as well as the use of case examples employed to support the practical approach on the role of e-learning business in various firms and learning institutions. The paper, therefore, aims to discuss e- learning businesses as a successful example in digital economics.
The research relied on scholarly works such as published journals and books that can be obtained from online libraries, journals and business publications. The materials used were chosen on the basis of their relevance to the thesis statement as well as year of publication. Since the report relied on secondary sources it was essential to sample out relevant and updated materials that merged well with the topic.
What is an e-learning business?
Technology has impacted widely on classroom activities and other pedagogical features. The incorporation of technology in classrooms has led to a better learning environment and designing of programs that best match the technological needs (Anderson 2008, p.92). E-learning thus refers to virtual learning where educators meet their learners using the internet. In other words, e-learning does not require physical interactions between the educators and learners but interact through the use of the internet. Here, learners can enroll in different programs across the various institutions in the world and attend classes virtually. The process mainly requires the use of Internet where various features such as video-conferencing, you-tube videos, podcasts, and social media platforms are used as learning tools. Firms have also incorporated e-learning in their operational activities such as business training and development programs as well as organizing business meeting, symposiums, discussions, and talks. They have also adopted e-learning policies in the managerial and strategic operations that are intertwined with e-commerce to boost their sales, distribution, and advertising activities. It has resulted in a wider market share and improved balanced card score as well as employee development among others.
E-learning technologies have led to various advantages such as the ability to provide just-in-time learning and increased access to educational materials. Additionally, it has led to the removal of barriers to learning such as time, cultural and situational constraints. Moreover-learning process supports pedagogical interests in the long run due to easier accessibility and enrollment as well as flexibility in the programs offered. Additionally, the rapid changes in business environment call for stringent measures to incorporate e-learning into the various business operations. It leads to better management and incorporation of personal development skills that boosts organizational performance, expertise and improved human resource capacity (Ong, Lai &Wang 2004, p.797).
Setting up an e-learning business, therefore, requires an exploration of certain factors that could impact on the project business operations. For instance, it is important to analyze the trends in the e- learning market before setting up your business. It is important to explore the untapped market gap in the e-learning industries. For instance, institutions might introduce an e-learning program to ensure flexibility in their teaching schedules and expansion of their market share in terms of learners enrolled. Additionally, companies might tap into e-learning to boost their sales and distribution by disseminating information about their products online. In other cases, e-learning can form an important framework for training and development activities in a given entity. Therefore, firms and individuals projecting to set up an e-learning business should be mindful of the market dynamics.
According to Rogers in his theory of diffusion of innovation, he argues that over time an idea spreads or gain momentum through a specific population or economic system (Greenhalgh et.al 2004, p.583). The theory, therefore, advocates for the spread of a given idea or product and service to a new culture. The new culture, in this case, would translate into a new market or a geographical location where the firms expand its demographic coverage. The technological advancements in e-learning businesses have led to increased innovations ranging from classroom teaching to organizational operations. The impact has been enormous accumulating and incorporating various aspects of business operations and pedagogy to utilize the internet fully in promoting the spread of e-learning businesses across the globe. However, the innovation idea as argued by Rogers may depend on certain factors for it to spread and be widely accepted across the globe. These factors include the relative advantage of the innovation, compatibility, and complexity. Additionally, the triability of the innovation and observability can be used to judge the extent to which e-learning business have impacted the global arena.
The theory can be expounded more using the porter’s generic strategies to show how the e-learning businesses operate once they have been established. Among the key similar notions addressed in the models include cost leadership and differentiation strategies. The strategies are key in triggering the diffusion of innovation as advocated for by Rogers. The diffusion of ideas ensures that organizations can streamline their operations to be centered toward a unique good or service that minimizes the cost in its various operations. Porter argues that differentiation strategies call for the development of a unique product that offers customers maximum satisfaction as compared to that of the competitors (Porter 2000, p.6). For instance, the e-learning businesses have been adopted by various learning institutions. However, the uniqueness of a program features such as less cost and flexibility makes it more successful to one institution as compared to other institutions offering the same e-learning program. Diffusion of innovation theory thus offers a good conceptual framework in which the dynamics of e-learning businesses can be understood.
Results and findings
Technological advancements have impacted on all sectors of the economy. The changes in education sectors due to the introduction of e-learning has seen not only the growth and development of education sector but also created an entrepreneurial opportunity. The incorporation of e-learning in institutions of higher education has transformed education to another level leading to flexibility in learning and just in time learning. Additionally, it has bolstered the growth of e-learning businesses such as the introduction of education tools, design, and materials that support the e-learning modules. The process involves carrying out a market view and analysis to identify the various learning opportunities that can be incorporated into the e-learning curriculum (Jochems, Koper & Van 2004, p.5). Extensive research and innovation are a prerequisite at this stage. The cost leadership and differentiation strategies then come in to determine the extent to which a learning module incorporated in the e-learning curriculum will impact on the education industry. For instance, institutions that have unique programs and charge less cost are likely to reap more in their e-learning business as compared to their competitors who charge higher prices for the same modules. Moreover, advertisements and marketing help bolster the e-learning business carried out by a specific institution. It can be done by use of social media platforms and the institution’s websites among others. Additionally, the effectiveness of the e-learning business in any institution of higher education will depend on how diverse the institution will be in its innovative strategies.
Organizations have also taken advantage of e-learning in their business operations to impart knowledge, skills and better attitudes, therefore, bolstering employee performance (Derouin, Fritzsche & Salas 2005, p.923). However, for e-learning to have a positive impact on a firm’s operational activities, it is imperative to evaluate how it is designed and implemented. Additionally, the nature of ideas to diffuse within a given time means that the firms can integrate various designs of e-learning in the operations and, thereby, increase its effectiveness. For instance, organizations may use e-learning in training the staff, holding a meeting as well as providing consumer education for their product. E-learning businesses can be incorporated with the e-commerce to ensure that a given firm balances between its product-consumer preferences are thereby increasing its revenue (Rosenberg 2005, p.17). The process of e-learning of a business ensures that the firms can take necessary measures and tap into technology and innovation to improve its varied strategies, product differentiation as well as cutting the cost of production.
Innovation and learning are important aspects for every business to achieve success in the current competitive business landscape. These two factors ensure that the business can compete in the international arena and also tap into the various areas of technology-based concepts and applications. Employee motivation and managers’ incentives determine the milestone covered by the business especially through the E-learning procedures that require continued update and grasp of the current trends. The creation of virtual platforms and intranets forced many companies to adopt the basic computer operations especially with the use of the internet. However, the retrieval and preparation of information resources prove to be among the major challenges for the e-learning businesses.
Additionally, the e-learning businesses experience the working culture challenges in their operations. The adoption of the current technology that abandons the traditional classroom infrastructure makes it challenging for the interaction between the teachers and students. According to Bates, the process of adapting to the new technology association with time wastage in learning the new computer skills as well as that of looking for the relevant information required makes the e-learning process challenging and tedious (Bates 2014, p.5). The concentration in particular studies is also a challenge with the e-learning procedure that offers diverse topics and avenues to retrieve information. The e-learning process interference through unnecessary distractions such as advertisement and spam are among other relative challenges of e-learning business growth.
The adoption of the new technology in the learning process affects the developing countries due to lack of basic requirements such as electricity, proper bandwidth and local expertise in the use of computers. Human motivation and internet connectivity are additionally other challenges that are common in the developing countries that hinder the development of the e-learning businesses. These are common challenges that majorly affect the implementation of the e-learning businesses globally. They hinder the set-up of lucrative business opportunities of delivering of education resources to the masses.
Cultural and linguistic challenges affect the use of the e-learning process in the developing countries. These challenges result from the adoption of a single language in communication and education (Tavangarian et.al 2004, p.274). Trans-border linguistic challenges between the continents additionally affect the learning processes in the e-learning ventures. The lack of policies addressing the use of e-learning operations in the institutions affects the growth of the business in numerous institutions. Translation of the traditional language and various transcription applications would enhance the use of e-learning in these institutions (Turban, King, Lee & Liang 2015, p.369). Additionally, the policy-making process should allow the regulation and control of the electronic information resources utilization. Directives of utilizing the e-learning in the institutions boost the employee morale in acquiring better skills in their field of specialization.
According to Mutapčić et.al, on a study on e-laboratories, other challenges apart from the implementation challenges include the e-learning growth and development challenges. The challenges include the content development, the need for good infrastructure in ICT for e-learning and the technical skills capacity to run the e-learning business successfully. The time required to create the e-learning content challenges the businesses strategy in allocating for a long period of preparation rather than in the operation. The diversity of the technological development, on the other hand, affects the technical requirement of skilled workers (Mutapčić, Cmuk, & Malarić 2014, p. 90). These challenges result in a burden in the budgeting of the resources required to keep the e-learning business in operation hence the difference in the profits and problem solution to the society.
Motivation and interest are important aspects in the learning process (Henry 2001, p.250). The lack of motivation by the technical department of various institutions in the development of e-learning business causes the slow adoption of the learning process. The need for the current updates in the technological world coupled with the challenges of acquiring proper tools demotivates majority of the technical staff in adopting the e-learning process. The economic challenges play a role in the slow adoption of the new technology learning process among various curriculum development challenges.
E-learning businesses serve as a crucial element in the digital platforms for various economies. It has contributed widely to the growth of education sector as well as boosting various organization’s operations. The nature of ideas of diffusing over a given time has seen the growth of e-learning businesses globally due to the technological advancement. However, differentiation strategies and cost leadership have helped entrepreneurs in the e-learning business to face the market dynamics appropriately. The e-learning process has been associated with advantages such as just in time learning in institutions as well as training activities in firms. Additionally, the e-learning businesses have opened up the international market for various firms through different platforms. Moreover, the educational sector has also been boosted by the e-learning business with many institutions offering virtual education to students across the world. However, there are various constraints that have hindered the effectiveness of e-learning such as growth and development challenges and lack of adequate ICT infrastructures in various countries. Therefore, e-learning businesses play an imperative role in the digital platforms of various economies across the globe.
Basing on the study conducted, the author recommends the following as far as e-learning businesses and the future are concerned:
There is a need for more resources to be put aside in economies of developing countries to boost the infrastructure in ICT and thus promote the expansion of e-learning businesses.
The quality of e-learning programs in education institutions ought to be scrutinized due to the high numbers of institutions offering the same, with some lacking even the basic infrastructure. It will ensure that quality provision of services is guaranteed and thus feasible ideas will diffuse easily allowing room for innovation.
Organizations need to incorporate e-learning into their operations to boost their productive capacity, cut on cost and boost performance. It will ensure that they take advantage of technological advancements to maximize the profits and embrace innovation.
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