For most people, the words “e-learning” or “online learning” are synonymous with the idea that the advent of technology in education has enabled greater access to learning amongst a wider audience. 

True, the improvement and increase in internet usage have revolutionized the way people in many parts of the world learn, but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding how technology has really helped “democratize” learning. 

The democratization of online learning is not limited to simply solving the problem of access to education. So, what does it really mean to democratize learning?

What technology has done for online learning is to change the process of how people learn. The online space gives learners the opportunity to be more than just consumers of knowledge. They are also collaborators, contributors, and co-designers. They are allowed flexibility and can pace their learning. In addition, they are active agents who have the power to architect their own learning experiences. 

However, there is a flip-side. Technology can also be a roadblock for some. 

As product managers, designers, user experience researchers and anyone else who has the power to shape the world of online learning in the future, what must we keep in mind?

We must ensure that the online platforms and products we create are usable by as many people as possible. Accessibility is more than just providing access. It is also about designing for as many people as possible; people with disabilities, people using mobile phones, people with slow internet and lower digital literacy. That is when we will be able to create online learning environments that are truly democratic in nature.

Varalika Singh is Manager, Behavior Analytics, Product

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