Carly Brail, Grade 11, Website Developer and Staff Writer
Quarantine has forced Americans to spend months inside their homes. But, in the online world at least, it has also led to an unforeseen improvement in the world of education, facilitating the democratization of learning. People of all ages were presented with the gift of time, which education companies supplemented with a variety of new learning platforms.
Established platforms, such as Khan Academy and MaterClass, experienced unprecedented growth. MasterClass, a private company that publishes celebrity-taught courses ranging from calculus to comedy writing, has been so successful that it is on the verge of becoming public. Its CEO and co-founder David Rogier announced a recent Series E financing round of $100 million, valuing the company at $800 million, a 600% increase from its evaluation of $136 million in 2018. This hockey-stick growth demonstrates an increased demand for MasterClass services and its immense success during the pandemic.
Similarly, Khan Academy, a non-profit teaching service for students in kindergarten through college, experienced an unprecedented amount of user growth. In an interview with NPR, founder Salman Khan reported that the number of users per month surged from 20 million to 30 million, and the amount of time spent on the site increased threefold. These numbers reflect the increased use of educational platforms for students who want to reinforce their school curriculum.
Colleges have also adapted to accommodate students who are studying new subjects outside of school. The University of Chicago announced a partnership with SchoolHouse, another online education site that teaches Advanced Placement courses. If students complete a SchoolHouse course, which includes taking videotaped quizzes and tests, and receive an acceptable grade from a proctor reviewing their work, then the University of Chicago will give the student credit for the course. This broadens an avenue for students to complete college courses before they go to college and demonstrates how colleges are adjusting to accommodate students who have gone above and beyond in their search for education.
Of course, the increased availability of education is not limited to those in school. Retirees, faced with an increased amount of time on their hands in quarantine, look towards education to fill their days. Coursera, a platform that provides college courses in the form of video lectures, grew from 1.6 in February to 10.3 million users in March. Udemy, a similar educational platform, reported that enrollment was up over 400% between February and March. Through these platforms, people can experience unique lectures from prestigious universities, such as ‘The Science of Happiness’ from Yale University. People of all ages flocked to these websites and embarked on new journeys of education.
For those who want to expand their horizons, all the information they need is on the internet, accessible in just a few clicks. Learning has never been this easy to reach—one of the few blessings that have come from the pandemic.