Coronavirus (COVID-19), Learning & Development

Surge in Online Learning Seen During COVID Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically upended everyday life for people around the world. For millions of Americans, the inability to attend traditional social events coupled with the ability to work from home meant significant amounts of additional free time, above and beyond pre-pandemic levels. For those who lost jobs, that free time increased even more.

online learning
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Managing More Free Time

How people managed that extra time understandably varied widely. Some may have spent more time with family or on a favorite hobby. Others may have coped with the stress of the pandemic by indulging in greater-than-usual leisure time. But data suggest that millions of people globally invested their extra time in bettering themselves through online learning opportunities.

At the Cornerstone Content Summit: Reunite, Rebuild, Recharge, held May 12, 2021, Cornerstone announced new data findings about corporate learning behaviors as a direct impact of the pandemic. Based on data from more than 75 million users, the Cornerstone People Research Lab found that the average time spent globally on online learning is now three times higher than it was 1 year ago.

A Drive Toward Self-Development

“Cornerstone believes the increase in online learning is being driven by the overwhelming shift that is going on in the workplace, and employee desire to upskill amid a transformation in how we collaborate,” the company says.

Key findings from the Cornerstone Research Lab include:

  • Cornerstone customers like Clif Bar and BNP Paribas saw a 198% and 235% spike in self-directed online training hours, respectively.
  • The #1 course that people flocked to was “Beat Stress Inducing Thought Processes,” developed by Grovo.
  • July through October 2020, Cornerstone witnessed a 6x spike in online learning focused on critical diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics like unconscious bias, microaggressions, and working with multicultural teams.
  • From March through May 2020, Cornerstone saw a 5x spike in online learning primarily focused on COVID-19-related courses such as remote work, personal health, productivity, and technology.
  • From November 2020 through January 2021, Cornerstone saw a renewed surge in learning content for remote work, spanning a unique mix of topics such as “Agile & Scrum 101,” “Microsoft Teams for Beginners,” “What is Emotional Intelligence?” and “Effective Writing Modules.”

For many around the world, the additional burdens of caring for children learning remotely, caring for sick loved ones, additional time spent at a frontline job, or simply the additional stress inherent in the pandemic meant there wasn’t necessarily an opportunity to take online courses or learn a new skill. But many were fortunate enough to find a silver lining in the COVID cloud and come away from the pandemic with greater knowledge and skills than they had pre-pandemic.