With Christmas fast approaching and the end of our first full year (and do we mean full) as Kineo, we decided to look back at 2006 and pick out some of the key events and trends. We also look at the latest market news.
As we go to press, a number of news items have reached our ears. Futuremedia are subsuming ebc into their fold, closing the ebc office in Milton Keynes and moving staff to Brighton. So yet more growth for Brighton's booming e-learning industry.
Also in Brighton, Epic have announced that their sales were marginally lower than last year as they concentrate on higher margin projects. This contrasts with Redtray which has seen significant growth and has just taken over Bourne and announced a deal with Skillsoft to be their preferred custom e-learning developer.
Academy Internet also continue to do well after bringing some ex-Adval and Maxim staff to their offices in Brighton. It looks like Brighton continues to be the preferred centre for e-learning in the UK.
We hear talk of more mergers to come next year, so there should be interesting times ahead.
Key Trends in 2006
Open Source hits the mainstream
The big winner this year has been open source e-learning and Moodle in particular. We did a search on Google Trends to see how many people have been searching for Moodle. The results are below.
There has been a surge in interest in Moodle in the latter half of 2006. This follows the adoption of Moodle by the Open University and increasingly by corporate organisations. Well done to Martin and all at Moodle for developing a great open source tool. For more on Moodle read our Moodle Overview.
There is now a great range of free open source tools available such as Moodle, Audacity, eXe, Freemind, etc., for an overview see our review of Free Tools for Elearning or download our report on 50 ideas for Free Elearning.
Open source doesn't just mean e-learning. The Open University has followed the example of MIT and made thousands of hours of content freely available. Go explore at Open Learn, delivered not surprisingly in Moodle.
2006 has seen significant consolidation in the market. There has been a number of mergers including:
- Skillsoft and Netg
- Blackboard and WebCT
- NIIT and Element K
- QA and Interquad
In the custom content space in the UK, Redtray have continued to acquire with Bourne their latest acquisition and Futuremedia bought up ebc. There was also some consolidation by attrition as Knowledgepool spun off its e-learning arm Maxim to merge with Adval, which promptly went into receivership.
Elearning market growing
In October we outlined the findings of a new Research Report from Ambient Insight. According to this report , "pricing pressures, competition, Open Source solutions like Moodle, server appliances with pre-installed content, and inexpensive hosted services are driving prices down very fast."
This confirms what we have been seeing in the UK e-learning market. Everyone is very busy, but prices are competitive. This also fits with CIPD's findings that average training budgets actually declined this year. The pressure will continue to intensify in 2007 as customers look for more cost-effective answers to their e-learing questions, which is why many organisations are looking at rapid e-learning.
Rapid E-learning and great authoring tools
2006 has seen a profiliferation of great e-learning authoring tools which combined with an increasing need to deliver learning at speed and at a lower cost has led to a dramatic growth in rapid e-learning.
We have been very impressed with the quality of the latest tool releases from server based tools such as Atlantic Link to simple flash learning interaction tools such as Engage. It is increasingly easy to organisations to build their own e-learning, or work in partnership with designers to create great e-learning at low cost. Our experiences with our clients and partners is no small proof of that, and we expect to see a lot more activitiy in this sector in 2007.
There has been great talk of informal learning and mobile learning in 2006. In essence we have increasingly seen e-learning developed as a performance support tool with short, focused learning objects delivered on a just in time basis.
The latest IDC report stated that "following the hype e-learning is being recognised as an integral part of performance solutions rather than "a mere training tool." Many contributions to this site have said the same – e-learning is about enabling improved performance, not training.
Predictions for 2007?
We are currently asking our clients and associates for their predictions for 2007. We will set these out in our January newsletter.
Have your own predictions? Mail us at email@example.com and we will list them along with our predictions in the January newsletter.