The cost of online English instruction is falling fast in Canada, according to new research that suggests the number of people taking online classes is growing.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Applied Economics, said the cost of providing online classes to more than 2.2 million Canadians fell about 10 per cent over the past five years, from $3,811 in 2016 to $3 of $1,921 in 2018.
It’s a drop of about $2,200 for a family of four.
“This is an encouraging trend,” said Dr. David Linton, an economist with the University of Ottawa and one of the study’s authors.
“In Canada, the majority of students are taking online courses.”
While the average price for a course online fell from $4,700 in 2016, to $2 in 2018, the price of a course on a conventional television and radio station increased by about $6,000, from about $7,400 to $9,900.
“What this means is that the price per unit of learning is going down and the number and volume of people who are using it is increasing,” said Linton.
“So there’s an increasing number of Canadians that are using these services.”
The number of students taking online English courses has also fallen over the same time period.
In 2016, there were 1.5 million students taking English courses online, down from 2.7 million in 2017.
In 2018, there was 1.3 million students, down slightly from 1.6 million.
The average price per course on an internet service provider dropped from $8,000 to $7.25 per course.
Linton said that although he doesn’t believe the price drop will last forever, there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue to fall.
“It’s really hard to find people who want to do that job for a living and who can afford it,” he said.
The report said it was encouraging that there are still people willing to take on the job of teaching online courses, even if the price is lower.
“While the number is going up, it’s going down a lot more slowly than the number would be expected to go up,” Linton added.
But the study also found there’s a danger in the trend.
“There is a real danger that there is going to be a big drop in demand,” Lain said.
“I’m not saying that we’ll see the price go down.
But I think there is a risk that we might be at the point where there is not a big enough demand for that job to warrant taking it.”
While Linton is optimistic about the trend, he cautioned against taking the fall for the service providers who aren’t making money off of it.
“If you want to say that the online English is the future, it certainly is,” he warned.
The decline in the number taking online lessons is being driven by a number of factors, including the growing popularity of online classes, and a shift to the social media world.
“We see a lot of new people, a lot fewer people who used to be on traditional television and newspapers,” said James Bagnall, a professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo.
“They’re now on social media, they’re not on traditional TV, they don’t really have the same social life as they used to.”
That’s because people have been sharing their stories online and are looking for something more engaging and less stressful than watching a traditional television program.
“That is a big change for many people, and that’s a huge problem for those that do not have the tools that we do,” he added.
“You may be in a classroom with your own friends, but you may be looking for someone else to teach you.”
“If we are going to have that social life online, we need to have the education for those people that are already there,” said Bagnal.