UK & global virtual learning statistics 2022

The learning landscape has expanded rapidly over the last few years, with virtual classrooms becoming a prominent feature in the lives of students of all ages – whether that’s workplace learners, university students, or children at school. The eLearning market is estimated to be worth a mind-blowing £276 billion by 2026, and finding a course online to learn just about anything you want has never been easier, no matter your location or qualifications.

But have the last few years really changed the way we learn? And what exactly are we learning virtually? We have gathered all the latest facts and figures regarding virtual learning to find out exactly that.

Virtual learning statistics – key findings

In a rush? Here’s the quick version:

What are the UK’s favourite methods of learning?

Instant access to the internet thanks to the phones in our pockets mean that more people than ever are turning to online content – whether that’s structured courses or bitesize YouTube videos – when they need to learn a new skill or piece of knowledge.

In January 2022, we used Censuswide to conduct a survey of 2,000 UK adults with the intention of finding out how the nation feels about online vs in-person learning, at work, in higher education, and in their free time. We asked:

What method(s) of learning do you/would you most enjoy, if any? (select up to three) – Answer options:

Please note: we omitted responses from this graph that said ‘N/A: There is/are no method(s) of learning in particular that I do/would most enjoy’ (28%) and ‘Other’ (0.5%)

As we can see from the chart:

Do men and women prefer different methods of learning?

Caveat: for ease of reading, we have omitted the ‘N/A’ answer option from this chart.

As you can see from the graph:

Do different age groups prefer learning in different ways?

We also asked survey participants to specify their age so we could understand if there were any generational differences in attitudes to learning. Are younger people more likely to enjoy learning online?

Well, our survey found that:

What’s more:

Most popular online courses of 2021

We used Keyword Finder to research a range of online courses to see which ones are most searched for, on average, each month in the UK. This list of courses was obtained from Udemy’s list of their most popular online courses. The search volume data and list of courses was correct as of 26 January 2022.

wdt_ID Rank Search term Average monthly searches in the UK in 2021
1 1 Learn Microsoft 7,900
2 2 Learn Angular 5,200
3 3 Excel courses 4,500
4 4 Data analytics courses 3,000
5 5 Learn Javascript 2,400
6 6 CCNA course 2,300
7 7 Python course 2,300
8 8 Learn spring boot 2,200
9 9 Software testing course 2,000
10 10 Microservices course 1,800
11 11 SQL course 1,700
12 12 Tableau training 1,700
13 13 Video editing course 1,700
14 14 Reiki course 1,600
15 15 Agile training courses 1,600
16 16 SEO course 1,600
17 17 Web development courses 1,500
18 18 Courses on Wordpress 1,500
19 19 Learn Solidity 1,500
20 20 Online art classes 1,400
Rank Search term Average monthly searches in the UK in 2021

As you can see from the table:

What do we want to learn about? Most popular topics for online learning in 2022

We wanted to look at a range of popular virtual courses to see which topics remote learners are most interested in. To do this, we looked at 99 different keyword searches from the UK relating to online courses, then sorted these searches into 36 categories based on courses’ topics. We then organised these into broader categories, so we could easily see the most popular topics that are being sought out by people looking for online courses.

This is what we found:

As we can clearly see from this graph:

Has Covid-19 changed the way we learn?

We also looked at how many times each individual keyword was searched for, on average, each month in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to find out whether there were any significant differences in search volumes before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Especially during the first lockdown of March 2020, many people turned to the internet for help with self-improvement, or picked up a new hobby or skill. But just how many of us did that, and was it a trend that quickly died off after the initial lockdown?

As we can see from the chart:

Virtual learning industry statistics – 2022

Hungry for more? Here are more of the latest facts and figures in the world of elearning in 2022:

We hope you’ve found our virtual learning statistics insightful. If you’d like to find out more about how learning management systems can help you deliver the best workplace learning opportunities, download our free brochure.