Elearning Market Update - February 2013

This month we take a look at a couple of new market research reports, which highlight the need for a more sophisticated approach to blended learning solutions. They call for an approach that reinforces continuous learning, incorporates informal learning and has a renewed emphasis on quality standards.

Tale of two reports

In the last few weeks there have been two detailed research reports that caught our attention, and we think they’re must reads for learning professionals.

The IBIS report manages to be both incredibly detailed and highly readable – no mean feat. It provides a very useful overview of the elearning industry and key trends. It has an optimistic outlook on the whole, but sounds some cautionary notes too.

Growth in both – but different views of how much

In terms of headline numbers, IBIS estimate that the corporate elearning market will grow at 8% per annum over the next three years and that the LMS market specifically will grow at 12% per annum. Some of the key points they make with regard to corporate training are:

  • The use of elearning is growing for both large and small companies
  • Learning content is rapidly being digitised by companies
  • The UK and Spain are leading the adoption of elearning in Europe

Interestingly this contrasts with the Bersin report, which argues UK companies have a greater reliance on instructor led training than their US counterparts, and which accounts for a much higher number of L&D professionals per head of staff in the UK. It suggests that UK L&D teams are somewhat bloated compared to US ones – possibly the cost cutting axe falling sooner and harder in the US?

Whilst the IBIS report refers to consolidation of suppliers, it also identifies over 3,000 elearning companies in Europe including over 500 in the UK alone. While there is consolidation taking place there is also a continued growth of new companies. IBIS say that 100 of 130 Indian elearning companies they identified were established in the last three years. That’s a lot of very young companies.

We’re in disruptive times

The positive side of this competition is that it creates innovation. The pace of change in the world of the internet combined with a competitive market, full of relatively young companies, is creating a wealth of new learning approaches and new technology based solutions including games, responsive design for multiple devices, social learning, better tracking, etc.

Bringing blended back…

These new developments and the growth in the use of elearning are generating a renewed focus on how to design integrated learning solutions and how to ensure quality standards. For example, the reports highlight how:

  • The diverse range of content offerings and approaches is creating a need for unified learning standards and also for learning to be recognised and portable across companies
  • The need for continuous and reinforced learning solutions. The use of apprenticeships was highlighted as one way of developing specialised skills over a period of time. Timely in the UK at least, where National Apprenticeship Week in March will focus on this
  • The need to develop a continuous learning model in which formal, tracked learning is supported with informal learning

These are welcome developments. As a City & Guilds Business we are very conscious of the need to ensure that learning is mapped to recognised standards and that learners’ achievements can be portable across employers. We are increasingly looking at how we can assess and accredit learning and provide a stamp of approval to the design and delivery of learning.

...and bring your badge

We are very interested in initiatives such as Open Badges, which allow businesses to award a badge for specific learning and achievements. These badges can be displayed by the learner on, say, their LinkedIn profile and when clicked can reveal details such as the issuing authority, learning undertaken, contact details of issuing person, date, date of renewal etc.

By using the Open Badges infrastructure the learning can be validated and verified. This is a very exciting project and we are proud to have been developing the Open Badges functionality for Totara and the Moodle community. Thus anyone using the Totara or Moodle platforms in future will be able to issue portable badges for learning.

The Bersin report highlights the need for continuous and reinforced learning. It also makes some very good observations around the potential of apprenticeship programmes to develop young talent and help them build skills and experience through sophisticated blended learning. There are some great case studies on how apprenticeships are adding value on such sites as Million Extra.

The next big thing – more mature blends

It is very encouraging to see through these recent reports a more mature approach to the design of blended learning solutions and to the importance of quality standards. At Kineo we are working with our colleagues in City & Guilds to develop more effective learning programmes, which provide continuous learning through both formal and informal learning; and also learning that is quality checked, accredited and portable for learners.

We’re writing a new report on blended programmes, and we’re keen to seek your input. If you can spare 15 minutes to help with our survey, we’ll share our findings with you. Deal? Great! You can take the survey here.

To find out more about our blended learning programmes please contact us.

By Steve Rayson
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