Characterizing the Online Learning Landscape: What and How People Learn Online

02/10/2021 ∙ by Sean Kross, et al. ∙ 0

Hundreds of millions of people learn something new online every day. Simultaneously, the study of online education has blossomed within the human computer interaction community, with new systems, experiments, and observations creating and exploring previously undiscovered online learning environments. In this study we endeavor to characterize this entire landscape of online learning experiences using a national survey of 2260 US adults who are balanced to match the demographics of the U.S. We examine the online learning resources that they consult, and we analyze the subjects that they pursue using those resources. Furthermore, we compare both formal and informal online learning experiences on a larger scale than has ever been done before, to our knowledge, to better understand which subjects people are seeking for intensive study. We find that there is a core set of online learning experiences that are central to other experiences and these are shared among the majority of people who learn online. We conclude by showing how looking outside of these core online learning experiences can reveal opportunities for innovation in online education.

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