Traditional correspondence courses have been around since the early twentieth century to enable students who couldn’t access full-time education to gain knowledge and qualifications to improve themselves. Books and other materials had to be printed and physically distributed and the material was usually privately produced and copyrighted. This resulted in significant prices to enroll in correspondence courses.
MIT’s Open Courseware project sparked the creation of the Open Educational Resources movement which made videos, animations and other learning materials available as, so called, Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) in a way of distributing teachers’ content more broadly and addressing new learners they couldn’t otherwise access. The digital nature of these resources made free or low-price access possible for millions of students.
The COVID pandemic accelerated the development of all forms of eLearning with a range of approaches on offer. Some schools and universities adopted and adapted video calls to enable live virtual classes and lectures to take place. Others copied the MOOC model to enable a broader, open distribution of educational materials for self-paced learning.
The shutdown during the pandemic of organized games and sporting activities meant that online coaching apps and websites gained prominence and e-learning is gradually becoming the new norm. At first thought, distance learning didn’t seem especially relevant to playing sports. After all, sports are about physical activity and participation in live events. Coaching takes place in physical training sessions with the whole squad and athletic skills are improved by muscle memory trained through repetitive drills and exercises. Nevertheless, the key benefits of eLearning turn out to be valuable to sports as well. The best part about sports virtual learning is that it eliminates the need for an expert present physically and enables the athlete to self-monitor and focus on personal stats and specific goals.
eLearning enables sports specialists to become even more specialist teachers. If you are a sports nutritionist working in a specific geographic location you have to be a generalist looking after the needs of a wide range of sportswomen in your location. With an eLearning platform, you can address enough people to specialize in nutrition for triathletes (or rowers, for example) whose requirements are very different from the basic requirements. Specialist experience in specific sports improves sports performance.
eLearning also allows self-paced study. A trainee referee or umpire needs to learn the rules of the game and think about specific incidents which demonstrate the way the rules work. This learning is time-consuming, and each student learns at their own pace. It’s hard to fit this learning around a full-time job and scheduled classes become a chore rather than reinforcing a love of the game. The self-paced study makes use of the time the student has available, whenever that may be, and allows them to progress as fast or slow as they wish. Additional materials, such as videos, can provide an emotional background to the learning material which reinforces the love of the sport. eLearning makes participation in sports more accessible.
eLearning automates the delivery of routine training. There is a range of topics where competitors, spectators, coaches, and sports administrators need to receive instructions, learn new regulations or maintain their professional qualifications. Examples include instructions to competitors participating in a specific event, acceptable fan behavior, safeguarding of children, anti-doping measures, permitted in-event coaching, etc. Some of these topics are compliance-related and an eLearning platform can record who has completed the necessary training to allow them to progress. An eLearning platform can automate compliance record keeping and issue completion certificates as well as the delivery of the course materials.
For example, Uefa Academy offers training for managers, specialists, and players to supply the world’s favorite sport with the best professionals. Used by European football’s 55 member associations to optimize their business, the UEFA Academy Online platform takes users inside the professional game with videos, presentations, and courses designed to assist in daily activities and in strategic thinking.
Most famous football clubs have developed their own eLearning platforms. FC Barcelona launched Barça Universitas to promote professionalization in the sports industry through a transformative learning experience. It provides 24-hour access to study material from anywhere on any device with certificates issued by Barça Innovation Hub and endorsed by the corresponding institution. ]
An eLearning platform lowers the cost of delivery of digital training materials. A club can use this to go deeper into its community reaching people who might be willing or able to pay for physical classes. This can increase loyalty and awareness with the club’s community.