With the online learning technologies developing faster than ever before and being influenced by technologies that are newcomers to the sector, it’s no wonder that those in this sector want access to independent, top level analysis and commentary. This can help them make sense of what, otherwise, could be both confusing and costly.
What are online learning’s current and future trends? What’s now possible? Who’s using these technologies? What results are they getting? How much do these technologies cost? What return on investment could you reasonably expect? And – importantly – where is there a reliable independent source for this (and more) business intelligence?
To meet this need, six independent online learning technologies specialists from around the world formed The Company of Thought (TCoT) in June 2015. A high level international think tank, TCoT aims to report and comment on trends within the corporate online learning technologies industry worldwide, independent of any vested interests. It:
- Has many years’ collective experience of this sector around the world
- Does continual worldwide research, including data mining and business intelligence
- Produces generic reports, guides and newsletters
- Produces reports that are specific to the needs of particular customers
- Uses its ‘special relevance algorithm’ to match LearnTech buyers with sellers
It produces a freely available monthly newsletter – available via its website – but its clients pay for quarterly reports that provide more detailed market news and insights. The current quarterly report covers:
- Virtual / Augmented Reality (VR/ AR)
- Wearables in e-learning
- The Internet of Things (IoT) in e-learning
- Learning Management Systems (LMSs)
- The E-learning Market and Trends
- Agile Learning
There’s also a ‘TCoT Special Report’ on ‘The Rise of Professional Organizations As Key Stakeholders in the Provision of Education and Training’.
TCoT’s analysis of these topics contains some commercially sensitive information but, in discussing these issues, the latest TCoT report states – among many other things:
Virtual / Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
- At the Learning Technologies event, in London, many organisations showed their e-learning VR applications. Siyona Tech was the only one also showing the potential of AR, with their Epson glass powered origami-making application.
- The first commercially available VR/AR devices have entered the consumer and developer markets, with price tags in the range of US$800 to US$1000. The devices have appeal in the gaming space as well as in the automotive and medical industries. Further devices will enter the market this year but test kits have often proved to be ‘clunky’ and in need of further development.
Wearables in e-learning
- The e-learning potential of wearables is enormous, and is only just starting to be explored. AR options for on-the-job training using, for example, Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens, are an obvious application – and some first steps have been taken. Other possibilities include using a FitBit-like tracker (Theatro is an example) to help train employees in their tasks (there are applications for this technology in the retail sector, among others). Then there’s combining wearable data with the xAPI (Tin Can Experience) to track learning activities that happen away from a desk.
The Internet of Things (IoT) in e-learning
- The Make Movement gained attention in 2015. Educators are bringing Maker activities to their classrooms with inclusions such as 3D printing, classroom coding, arts integration and design thinking. Concepts such as Maker Lab, Creativity & Innovation Week, 20% Time and Genius Hour are being increasingly incorporated in teaching spaces.
- Cisco Systems, has seen success with its revolutionary Social Media Training Program for its employees and contractors. This e-learning system guides trainees through over 46 courses that teach social media skills, including improving security and driving user engagement. Cisco reported a dramatic increase in registration and participation following the debut of its gamified instruction system. More than 650 people have certified in the program and have, collectively, completed over 13,000 courses.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs)
- There’s consolidation in the UK – with content providers/developers buying LMS vendors. There are price wars in the USA. There’s expansion into Asia Pacific, specifically the Asia region – notably in China, South Korea, India, Japan and Malaysia.
The E-learning Market and Trends
- Off-the-shelf course prices have spiralled downwards and new business models have emerged to let companies’ access large libraries of e-learning at low cost. Lynda, Open Sesame, Grovo and Degreed are active in the UK. Perceptions have changed – and buyers now have a different pricing benchmark.
- The most effective software addresses three pain points:
- Agile reporting and metrics: Time tracking and projection, progress reports for stakeholders, quality assurance, and “percentage complete”
- Communication: Communicate updates with local and distributed teams, as well as share task lists, feedback, and assignments
- Project assessment: Identify and remedy project obstacles, evaluate performance, and appraise financials
Bob Little is the co-founder of The Company of Thought, a think tank aiming at reporting and commenting on trends within the e-learning industry worldwide, independent of any vested interests.