With commutes cancelled and classrooms closed, stay-at-home audiences are looking for knowledge and inspiration from online learning resources. Publishers are eyeing the explosion in demand for online education as a real opportunity to engage readers and generate revenue.
- According to the OECD, the COVID‑19 crisis has resulted in a significant increase in online learning by adults. To contain the spread of the virus, training previously conducted in classrooms, face-to-face, has shifted online.
- People are also being encouraged to dedicate the extra time they have through working from home, short-time working or furlough to pursue online learning opportunities. In the UK, for example, the Trade Union movement is providing free training courses to help workers upskill.
- Lockdown learning is driving unprecedented demand for education technology products and services. The UK’s edtech sector has more than a thousand companies and is forecast to be valued at £3.4bn this year.
Eager to find replacement revenue to backfill the gap left by COVID hit advertising, retail and events sales, publishers are looking at the boom in virtual education as a real opportunity. The strategy is largely to target already engaged audiences with niche learning content.
- WWD, the fashion-business website that grew from Women’s Wear Daily, has launched an online course for readers wanting to study the fashion business and identify potential career paths. The 15-hour Fashion Business Essentials course will be delivered in partnership with the Parson’s school of Design and the Yellowbrick edtech platform.
- Leading current affairs weekly The Economist is launching The Economist Executive Education to give its readers an edge in their careers. The first course, The New Global Order: How Politics, Business and Technology are Changing, runs over six weeks and will cost readers £1,475.
- Digital publisher The Skimm, best known for it’s female-focused daily newsletter, has launched a collection of free virtual courses. Designed to help women take control of their finances, SkimmU virtual events are hosted by independent finance experts and supported with a dedicated money tips newsletter.
Niche targeting and collaboration
Publisher power rests largely on a close affinity with audience information needs and passion points. Publishers delivering online learning are targeting their own niches with specialist content, leveraging brand trust and existing engagement to attract audiences made more open to virtual education by stay at home orders.
They are often partnering with third-party experts to deliver value. Independent experts and educational institutions are being recruited to help power-up online offerings. And, to keep their market response agile and expand their reach, they are also collaborating with established edtech providers like Yellowbrick and GetSmarter.