eLearning News

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Making the Grade: eLearning 2006

A recent report supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been published. From the eLearning report:

"Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006 represents the fourth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education. This year’s study, like those for the previous three years, is aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education."

The report aims to answer the following questions:

  • Has the Growth of Online Enrollments Begun to Plateau?
  • Who is Learning Online?
  • What Types of Institutions Have Online Offerings?
  • Have Perceptions of Quality Changed for Online Offerings?
  • What are the Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Online
  • Education?
The full content of the report can be downloaded here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

eLearning Reaches New Buyers in a $10 Billion Industry

A recent article at Tekrati reports:

The market for Self-paced eLearning products and services in the U.S. across all
the buying segments topped $10 billion in 2006, according to Ambient Insight.
"The current U.S. eLearning market is in a period of rapid transformation with
new business models being tried, new low-cost variations of traditional products
appearing, new suppliers entering the market, and new buyers adopting the
products," said Sam Adkins, Chief Research Officer at Ambient Insight

Currently, there are literally hundreds of eLearning providers on the market. Many of these are in-house applications from corporations like IBM and HP and even more prevalant are the traditional CBT (Computer Based Training) models such as Blackboard.

However, according to the article, "..inexpensive hosted services are driving prices down very fast. This is great news for customers," as products like the SimplyDigi University will deliver better and more reliable eLearning models to industry.

This is particularly good news for the small business and non-profit markets as, "It is a new industry and the old rules do not apply. The market now favors innovative disruptor suppliers that are skilled at meeting the needs of the new buyers. Suppliers that know the answer to the question, 'who is the new buyer?", according to Adkins.

Friday, October 13, 2006

EU Reports eLearning Benefits

eUser, a Europe-wide survey of citizen needs and preferences related to lifelong learning and eLearning, funded by the EU, finds that two in three persons who have done an eLearning course are satisfied with the experience. Early efforts by the eLearning industry, as well as by incumbent players on the market for adult education, have led to much progress in recent years. Nevertheless, a considerable proportion of persons who show active interest in eLearning courses experience significant obstacles. These include locating suitable online offers in the first place, developing trust in the effectiveness of eLearning courses, dealing with high course prices and with insufficiencies of own computer equipment. To remedy this situation, European governments should intervene on both the supply side (improving market transparency and transferability of certificates) and the user side (developing digital literacy and self-management skills).

Most adult learners (54%) already make use of the Internet as it increases flexibility about when, where and how to learn. What is more, 8% of adult learners already make use of online eLearning courses, according to the eUser survey. For the near future, the evidence from eUser suggests that eLearning will increase participation among those who have a basic willingness to engage in learning activities but rarely do so today because of time and distance related constraints. At the same time as eLearning supply is becoming more and more attractive, the learning oriented group – which comprises 28% of all adults – will increase their engagement in lifelong learning.

The majority of non-learners (people who currently are not engaged in adult education of any type), however, do not show any interest in lifelong learning – regardless of whether this takes place online or in traditional ways. This group comprises more than one in three adult persons (36%). Closer analysis reveals that low expectations about measurable benefits to be gained from learning, and low confidence in own learning skills are key factors explaining lack of interest.

In addition, lifelong learning activities have to compete with other leisure time pursuits for people’s time, effort and money. In the absence of a widespread sense of need and urgency in most EU countries, adult education continues to appeal mainly to those who are already endowed with high levels of skills – but far less to those who are in most need of skills upgrading and updating. European education systems need to step up their efforts to develop services targeted at hard-to-reach groups. If eLearning is to contribute towards the EU policy goal of universal participation in lifelong learning, it will need to be embedded in a wider lifelong learning strategy. This needs to take in all possible delivery channels and methods of learning, and must receive strong support from all levels of policy.

Policy recommendations to the EU and Member States include: (1) Increase transparency on the eLearning market through implementation of an integrated system of portals at regional, national and European level; (2) Develop awareness raising initiatives which let people try out eLearning in real-world settings; (3) Create innovative ICT-enriched ways of providing skills which avoid resemblance to traditional types of teaching/learning; (4) Raise awareness of the benefits of lifelong learning for everybody, and the opportunities which exist; (5) Develop a concerted effort (involving all key stakeholders) to communicate the benefits and feasibility of lifelong learning to older Europeans.

"The eUser project represents the first coherent effort to address the needs of the whole population in relation to online public services of public interest. While some countries, like Denmark and the United Kingdom, have a leading edge, European leaders have not done enough to tailor services to the users. Users will demand far more in the future, and there is room for improvement", says eUser Project Manager Werner B. Korte, Empirica.

The EU-funded eUser project’s research includes a representative population survey and assessments of the supply side of online services of public interest in all 25 EU Member States. The eUser survey has data from 10 European countries on access, usage patterns and attitudes towards public services provided via the Internet. Concise country briefs for each of the EU25 countries include information on: (a) the state-of-the-art in eGovernment, eHealth and eLearning; (b) the supply and demand of public online services, and (c) public sector's readiness to provide user-oriented online services. The country briefs are based on desk research, interviews with experts and stakeholders, as well as on secondary data from Eurostat and other Commission Services. The project also has analysed 21 good practice cases in eGovernment, eHealth and eLearning from the EU Member States. One promising example in the area of eLearning is Germany’s “Portal Zweite Chance Online” which includes www.ich-will-schreiben-lernen.de/ . The online service has attracted much interest among its target group of functional illiterates, which demonstrates the potential of eLearning as a tool in social inclusion policies.

eUser is a resource to Member States, especially to those responsible for online public services offerings. eUser’s easy-to-use user-orientation inspection tool for online service provision quality has already been piloted on 10 eServices across Europe. Factors like visibility, findability, perceived usefulness, and quality of the interaction are among the most important. Evaluators using this tool would assess online services starting from the basic notion that there are different types of users: (1) first-time and novice users, (2) moderately experienced users, and (3) expert users.

The freely available eUser Online Knowledge Base is found on www.euser-eu.org , together with additional statistics and publications, fully searchable. It is expected to become a key European resource for years to come and will be a reference model to improve the delivery, design and user experience of online public services.

Source: eGov monitor