Thursday, September 28, 2006

Corporates re-think generic e-learning

Just over a year ago, we put out a research note focusing on the ways we were starting to see corporates reevaluate their use of generic e-learning materials, especially when they had company-wide commitments to large catalogues of content from companies like NETg and SkillSoft.

Some key elements we identified at the time were:

• Greater focus on driving high recurrent usage around a narrow set of generic titles; often linked to specific major business projects or changes, which may be cycled over time
• Rapid growth in adoption of non-traditional forms of e-learning content, particularly on-line reference material, driven by significant increases in perceived relevance and value from an often e-learning sceptical audience
• More focus on industry-specific (vertical) or job-role-specific (horizontal) content, often from niche providers with a proven understanding and brand in their niche
• Increased desire for flexible adoption of e-learning content, embedded within mainstream learning programmes (the so-called trend to blend)

We also noted that organisations were often struggling to achieve expected adoption and usage in their learner population, often relating to:

• An often negative perception of e-learning for discretionary learning and development based on poor experiences linked to compliance and regulatory (must do) e-learning
• A lack of flexibility of historic e-learning products in addressing learner-specific needs and questions
• A cultural resistance and resulting limited engagement from the broader learning and development community

A year further on, and not a lot seems to have changed. We still organisations asking the same questions. The longer term implications could be quite significant, especially for the generic content vendors. This is already a highly-competitive market and pressure from corporates for more targeted contracts or pay per use could have major implications for vendor revenues. And at a time when they are already struggling to keep their existing portfolio up to date, and up to the latest standards for e-learning design.

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