1.1 Definition and Introduction
E-learning, or digital learning, is a learning method through online platforms and services. E-learning is used for personal and/or professional training. There are three main categories of e-learning :
- MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are generally free open access courses; upon completion, participants can obtain certifications
- SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) are similar to MOOCs, but are fee-based. In fact, their access is limited to specific users, such as university students. They can also be used to obtain certifications.
- COOCs (Corporate Open Online Courses) are used by companies to train their employees.
E-learning is linked to the vocational training and education sectors. The methodology democratizes access to training, as it allows flexibility in education and access to all users with an Internet connection, regardless of their location.
The digital learning market in Portugal is still in its infancy; currently, Portugal has around 10 million inhabitants, 7.73 million of whom are connected to the Internet, which makes it easier for consumers to access this type of product, even though the market has not unleashed its' potential. In fact, the only public distance learning institution in Portugal is the Universidade Aberta de Portugal - UAb. However, it is a reference in Europe in terms of e-learning, with advanced technologies and methodologies to offer quality education all over the world. The UAb offers undergraduate (1st cycle), postgraduate (3rd cycle), master's (2nd cycle) and doctoral (3rd cycle) courses. In addition, it offers other types of courses and open classes (free of charge) for those interested.
The still embrionic development of the market and the low barriers to entry could, however, encourage the emergence of new players in this market.
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