By

Samantha Talavera

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world in many ways, and education is no different. With businesses and schools shut down for months at a time, educators have been forced to reimagine what it means to inspire and educate their students from anywhere in the world.

With the unpredictability of the current world and online learning’s proven ability to meet academic standards for student success, it’s clear that online learning is here to stay. The global e-learning market size is projected to grow to $370 billion by 2026, up from $226 billion in 2020, according to Valuates Market Research reports.

Now more than ever, expertise in online learning, teacher training and instructional design is in high demand, with institutions all over the world looking for new ways to innovate and educators who can lead their students through the new age of digital learning.

In the last 10 years, Arizona State University has provided access to more online students than any other research-intensive public university and is continuously recognized as a leader in innovation and digital education, ranked in the top 1% nationally for online education by U.S. News & World Report.

This year, ASU, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation's Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning and United States International University-Africa, aims to expand the use of digital learning tools at international universities through the e-Learning Initiative for the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program network of universities. 

Multiple ASU units are also working together on this initiative — Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, University Design Institute, Global Academic Initiatives and EdPlus — which will provide foundational training to 10 institutions in Africa and beyond to help them better prepare for and deliver high-quality, inclusive e-learning that enables students to successfully pursue their studies from any location in the world. 

“We are thrilled to be a part of this initiative, sharing ASU’s world-class expertise in digital learning and university design, shaped and contextualized by our African partner, USIU-A, and led by the Mastercard Foundation with their deep commitment to expanding access to quality education across Africa as part of their Young Africa Works strategy,” said Dawn Feldman, executive director of Global Academic Initiatives.

The first phase of the e-Learning Initiative began this fall and will be implemented over 18 months, with a strong focus on addressing urgent needs of universities in the Scholars Program network in the immediate term, while also building institutional resilience for the longer term. The second phase of the initiative will leverage learning from this program in order to scale efforts in other universities in Africa.

In order to address immediate needs, the initiative will develop a community of about 135 "e-Learning Champions" in instructional design and e-learning pedagogy from the Scholars Program network. These new champions will learn instructional design standards and gain e-learning support from ASU experts to confidently build sustainable online learning programming in their home university. The champions will then be expected to train more faculty and designers within their own institutions over time, extending the benefits to students well into the future. It’s estimated that at least 95,000 students could benefit from the e-Learning Initiative.

Since the initiative began:

  • More than 100 e-Learning Champions began their learning journey starting with the two-week Master Class for Teaching Online, virtually delivered by ASU’s EdPlus.
  • More than 50 e-Learning Champions began the second activity in their journey, specialized coaching with partners at USIU-A.
  • Representatives from the 10 partner universities as well as the three co-implementing partners convened to share early wins and address the critical components of digital adoption and scaling e-learning at the institutions.

“We have the opportunity to develop a community of practice to learn from each other’s work to digitize education,” said Reeta Roy, president and CEO of Mastercard Foundation. “And we have the opportunity to work together to shape education across Africa.”

To learn more about the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program's e-Learning Initiative or for a list of participating universities, visit the e-Learning Initiative website