This month we take a look at the findings of the latest elearning survey undertaken by Towards Maturity. The full report published at the end of February 2009,is the 3rd in a longitudinal research series looking at trends in the use of learning technologies in the workplace. The work is supported by Becta as part of the Next Generation Learning @ Work campaign.
The most striking aspect of the findings is the optimism of the learning and development profession. When asked if the current credit crunch was an opportunity or a threat, 56% said it was an opportunity as they will do more with what they have. Only 6% felt it was a threat.
This may be in part due to the potential benefits that elearning can deliver to organisations. The report's authors comment “learning technologies are starting to add some strong value in areas that are becoming increasingly important to organisations in a downturn when efficiency and competitiveness are key.”
They point to feedback shows that learning technologies are helping organisations:
- Save time
- Reduce cost
- Implement organisational change
- Improve the rollout of new products and IT systems
The findings on elearning expenditure in the coming year were positive in that whilst over 25% expected training budgets as a whole to reduce, 64% expected the proportion of the overall training budget allocated to elearning to increase. Training managers in the US are gloomier with 35% expecting overall training budgets to decrease according the to the latest ASTD survey, see January's market update.
In 2007 the survey found that the top drivers for investment were:
- improving flexibility and access to learning (reported by just under 80% of the group)
- reducing cost and improving administration (reported by about 50% of the group)
What is driving investment in learning technologies in 2009?
It looks as if expectations in the current economic climate are considerably higher. Organisations are looking for even more for even less. Organisations are demanding much more from their investment – they are not just looking for cost reductions and improvements for learning and development but are looking to really add value to their business and their staff.
The drivers for learning technology investment that are showing the most significant increase are:
- increased reach
- consistent delivery
- meeting needs of next generation learners
- maintaining a progressive image
- supporting organisational change
The identified benefits of elearning were improved access, flexibility and delivery of compliance training. The full list is set out below.
The barriers identified to the successful implementation of elearning by the survey were as follows:
The tools and methods that have experienced the most growth in the last 2 years (ahead of predicted growth rates back in 2006) are those that help provide a faster response time to business needs:
- Podcasting has nearly doubled and is in use by 35% of the sample.
- Rapid development tools have also grown by 43% and are in use by 46%.
- Virtual conferencing has also increased and is in use by 62% of the respondents.
One interesting chart is where the authors compare what tools and methods organisations actually used in 2008 and what organisations plan to use.
It appears from this research that the high expectations that organisations would use games, complex simulations, virtual worlds and mobile devices have still to be fulfilled but strong growth is anticipated.
You can get the full results at the Towards Maturity site. To find out how to achieve more for less in your organisation, download Kineo's latest free report on More for Less.