Who will win the online education arms race?

E-learning, bootcamps and workshops are all booming, but what does it take to survive long term in the world of learning? Mastered’s Perri Lewis and SuperHi’s Rik Lomas discuss the big questions education providers face

If you’re a creative looking to learn a new skill, there’s no shortage of places to look. You might turn to YouTube for a tutorial, or sign up to websites such as Udemy or Skillshare, which aggregate educational video content on a vast range of subjects. There’s organisations that offer day-long, in-person workshops; companies that tailor professional development courses for businesses; and designers, illustrators and hand-letterers are all teaching their unique skills to others in a myriad of ways. And for those hoping to make a drastic change there’s also longer bootcamps geared towards landing attendees a job in a new field.

As a wave of new companies have entered the world of education, hoping to capitalise on a newfound thirst for ongoing learning and development, it’s become a fiercely competitive business – particularly as Covid has driven the majority of it online, helping to open up new e-learning avenues for many organisations.

And no single model has won out yet. Some organisations have opted to become generalists – offering to teach anyone almost anything – while others focus on a particular niche or selling point, such as MasterClass’s roster of famous instructors.

Perri Lewis, founder of Mastered – which offers bootcamps aimed at getting creative people into 3D design careers in fields including gaming, VR and AR – says that surges in learning are often driven by recessions. “People are looking to upskill,” she tells CR. “They have more time, so education tends to do well in periods of economic downturn. There’s a huge amount of investment that’s happened in the tech space, and lots of venture capital money going in to really foster innovation.