How Online Learning Platforms Can Support Lifelong Learners And Drive Business


In the 21st century, learning and even formal education are no longer just for kids and college-age students. As Hunt Lambert, Dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education, observes, learning may be something we begin to pursue in earnest during our teen years, but it is increasingly something we continue throughout our working years and even into retirement. Lambert describes this cycle as the 60-year curriculum , but whatever you call it, one thing is clear: Lifelong learning is becoming the norm.

How To Drive A Startup With Online Learning

Thirty years ago, most CEOs likely wouldn’t be boasting about their ongoing program of continuing education, but we live in a new world — one where the demand and ability to keep learning throughout one’s career is something we all need to embrace. As an example, I offer my own personal story.

When I was launching my own company back in 2012, online tutoring was still an exception to the rule. Today, it is a booming sector that everyone from Ivy League universities like Harvard, Stanford and MIT to individual strivers are embracing. What’s notable is that to successfully launch my own company, I also had to spend a lot of time engaging in online learning myself.

With the arrival of Coursera in 2012, I was able to take courses with some of the world’s top educators on topics ranging from finance and gamification to design and history. More recently, I’ve signed up for a Python course on Codeacademy to broaden my understanding of my own tech organization and improve my data analysis skills. On top of taking these courses, on a daily basis, I listen to audiobooks on Audible and to Apple Podcasts. I also use my own platform to improve my English language skills as I’m not a native speaker.

Online learning is my startup’s business, but you might say it is also my startup’s secret to success. On this account, I also know that I’m not alone.

Online Learner Demographics 

A recently released study by a team of researchers at Columbia University’s Teachers College found that the majority of massive open online course (MOOC) learners are university-educated, employed individuals between the ages of 30 and 44. The same study found that most learners enroll in online courses to improve their performance on the job. The people who are doing this, however, aren’t just launching their careers. Lifelong learning is being embraced by everyone and, perhaps, especially leaders.