Elearning is an interesting industry, a worldwide industry employing animators, writers, programmers, designers, project managers and more but you rarely hear about it. If you see the tech news or read a tech report the new advances don’t get as much coverage as other technology sectors yet the sector is worth billions. During the pandemic online learning received a huge boost with schools and organisations quickly trying to embed online learning within weeks. The challenge for many was how to deploy elearning and how to use.
The sector is wide and varied with companies covering hardware, software, consultancy, platforms and more. It continues to develop and integrates more with the requirements of HR and Personnel departments. The value of the of the elearning sector continues to grow year on year with the global elearning market set to value $1trillion by 2028 as reported in a recent study by Global Market Insights Inc.
Elearning companies vary in size from smaller companies and start-ups to large multinationals. Companies like Microsoft and Adobe having elearning functions and have increasingly seen the value in elearning and online learning. Teams is now seen as a major elearning platform within higher education and creative cloud is major tool for development companies. For the customer this can make it difficult to know where to start when they are looking to select a supplier. What do all of these companies do and how do I select a supplier?
There are a number of exhibitions that take place during the year that can help if your time period allows where you can visit the vendors and get an understand of the industry and the landscape, you’ll only see a snapshot of what is happening but it’s a useful place to start. You can also check out the websites like learning light and elearning industry and starting receiving weekly news articles.
Elearning companies often provide a range of services including software, hardware and consultancy. Many of them will offer a Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment or LXP. This will allow content to be deployed, managed and analysed throughout your organisation.
Other companies are involved in content creation. This could be custom course creation or they may have their own course library that they sell direct or supply to the LMS provider or platform providers – we will come to that next! Course libraries can be really helpful if you are need to get content out to your organisation quickly. There are companies who sole focus is developing elearning courses, they will use development tools like Articulate Storyline 360 and have an entire development team. They will cover a range of subjects including wellbeing, information security, soft skills, leadership and more. You’ll be able to buy the entire library and within days you’ll have access to an elearning library for your entire orgnisation.
There are also large content platform providers like Open Sesame that provider an online market place for buying and selling content. You can buy content for your organisation in a similar model to Netflix, there are thousands of courses available. There are several similar platforms available and the number of courses available runs into the thousands.
There are also software providers. In addition to companies like Adobe who provider Creative Cloud and their Adobe Captivate software there are specific Elearning companies like Articulate who focus purely in the learning sector and have developed Articulate 360. 360 is a SaaS product developed specifically for the elearning market to allow companies and individual to create their own elearning content.
It can be challenge to define what is the elearning market and what is an elearning company as the sector continues to develop and the number of technologies continues to grow. There will always be regional and technology trends but over the last 20 years there has been a constant within the sector, there are platform providers and content providers.
Customers continue to look for content and platforms to allow to distribute the content across their organisations. Amongst this is the software providers, companies like Articulate and Adobe who continue to have success developing software tools like Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline which is now part of Articulate 360.
The requirement for content is increasingly growing with companies developing their own courses and content in-house using tools like Articulate Storyline or engaging an elearning company to create their own content. Elearning Companies like Open Sesame allow companies to select from thousands of available courses and deploy it via a cloud platform with new courses being uploaded every week.
There are elearning companies that focus purely on content development and support companies like Open Sesame, Go1 and LinkedIn Learning may develop eLearning courses that will be uploaded to the vast number of content providers available in the market. These companies may also provide their content to the various LMS/VLW providers who are looking to bundle their product with courses to make it more attractive to new customers with off the shelf eLearning.
Several companies provide both content platform and content with several of the large LMS/VLE providers with several of the larger companies moving into content to ensure that their customers are also served with content on their platform. Content development is expensive and takes time to ensure that you are keeping up with the latest content requirements, trends and technology requirements.
Increasingly we’ve seen the large technology platform acquire content providers or collaborate with content providers to ensure that they continue to provide regular and updated content to their customers.
The platform market continues to develop from a market that started from the straightforward LMS to complete Virtual Learning Environment, AI and Diagnostic platforms that are now looking to integrate Artificial Intelligence into their platforms. Increasingly the LMS/VLE markets are also developing so that they integrate with HR functions are no longer seen as standalone content delivery platforms.
At the smaller end of the market there are a number of LMS/VLE eLearning companies that are still serving smaller companies that have a smaller number of users and are not looking for the functionality of multinationals. You can still develop or purchase an excellent functional LMS for a small business at a reasonable price, it is important that you develop the correct procurement process to select the correct elearning company at this stage.
Elearning companies continue to vary in size with large multinationals providing full service options from platforms, content and learning and development services to smaller niche companies providing specific content or technical platforms. More than ever there is lot to choose if you are looking to enter the market.
If you are looking to enter the market the challenge when looking for an elearning company is finding a company that matches your requirement. The key is understanding what your requirement if before you start!
With a vast number of companies available, all offering different services it is important to understand that you are likely to receive varying cost proposals back. If you are planning a project spend some time to put together your project proposal, identify your requirements and put together a project specification document.
If you are sending your specification out to companies for review, be aware that if you send them to companies of different sizes that you are likely to get quotes that will vary. It helps to understand what the day rate is and what the break down of the quote it.
Spend some time reviewing the market and understanding what your project is and what type of company you need. How long is your project likely to be? Do you have the budget? It can be helpful to ring the company before you send anything over. Are they able to help you understand what is required?