Online Learning | Beyond the Classroom

The future of educationOnline Learning

The education industry has gone through tremendous changes over the last decades in terms of educational opportunities, teaching methods, availability of reading materials, etc. With the advancements in technology and availability of the Internet, there has been a shift from in class to online learning. This shift was accompanied by the necessity to standardize the operations of educational institutions. ISO 21001 is the first management system standard for educational organizations that specifies the requirements to be fulfilled in order to support the learning needs and enhance the students’ satisfaction.

The education opportunities have increased drastically over the years with new online platforms becoming available to learners. Platforms such as MOOC (massive open online course) enabled interested individuals to participate in various online courses. However, there have been many steps in between before the online learning area arrived. Some of the long-distance learning methods used before online learning were:

  • Correspondence Courses: with limited interaction through regular mail;
  • Telecourses: courses delivered through television or radio;
  • CD-ROM Courses: installed programs and completion of courses on a static computer;
  • Mobile Learning: through phones, or digital audio players.

What does online learning provide for the general public?

Online learning gives rise to many benefits in terms of convenience, lower cost, innovative technology, wide access, etc. Employed individuals, those living in remote areas, or people with low income previously were not able to attend classes because of time, distance, or financial constraints. The emergence of online learning, minimized, if not eliminated these constraints, and enabled learners to attend more educational programs.

In terms of convenience, online learning platforms offer the opportunity for students to access the study materials and lectures 24/7. In today’s dynamic age, there is a high demand to remove boundaries, thus online learning is an ideal method to meet the needs of groups.

As research shows, students will have a more in-depth understanding of the course materials and the quality of education will increase too. Furthermore, the playing field will be leveled as students from all around the world can have access to the same quality education, and do it at their convenience considering their daily obligations. An example of this is PECB University which offers online MBA and Graduate Certificate Programs. The programs are aimed at experienced individuals who want to advance their academic background or specialize in their respective field of work.

Why implement ISO 21001?

With the increasing number of educational opportunities, there was an increasing need for regulation, guidelines, and standard operating procedures. Considering these needs, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed ISO 21001 – the management system for educational organizations.

This standard helps organizations implement a management system that aims to minimize risks and establish a culture of continual improvement. By taking into account the context of the organization and understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties; this standard can be used by various educational institutions, including but not limited to universities, high schools, elementary schools, language schools, training organizations, and online learning institutions.

ISO 21001 ensures that the certified organizations have set in place the necessary controls, systems, and procedures to enhance the quality of educational products and services.

About the author

Fitim Hoxha is a Quality Assurance Manager at PECB. He is in charge of reviewing and ensuring the quality of training courses and other supportive materials. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact him at:

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About the Author

Nico Snyman
Founder and CEO at Crest Advisory Africa (Pty) Ltd Nico Snyman is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Crest Advisory Africa (Pty) Ltd since June 2014, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nico has an MBA, specializing in Total Quality Management (TQM) and is an internationally Certified Management System Auditor with PECB. Nico is also a PECB-certified Senior Lead Auditor for 19 ISO standards. With over 35 years of experience in various disciplines, Nico has a vast subject matter expertise (SME) base across various industries, from government, corporate, regulators, banks, mines, medical schemes, etc. He served as a Brigadier in the South African Police Service (SAPS), an Executive on the biggest global project between 2007 and 2011, the Gautrain Project, and as an Executive, was instrumental to the establishment of the Bombela Operating Company (BOC) between 2009 and 2013.