E-Learning is Making Inroads in the Corporate World in the USA
E-learning refers to web-based learning. In the last decade, e-learning has enjoyed unparalleled growth, and the trend is expected to continue. The growth is not just dependent on the adult training industry. In the K12 arena too, online education is gaining popularity in leaps and bounds. But the growth mostly comes from large corporations that have realized the value of online education for their employees and are embracing it for its low cost and high result aspect.
Let’s have a look at what the corporate e-learning market looks like in the USA.
The USA market size
In 2013, the revenues of self-paced e-learning were around $24.4 billion, globally. It is expected to cross $27 billion by 2018. The USA is the most mature market of them all, with a moderate growth rate of 4.4%. This growth rate may not seem to be too exciting as compared to other regions worldwide, but the revenues are high.
A major reason for this growth can be attributed to the investment made by private firms in the education segment. The US government has been supporting digitization of the education system. They have taken initiatives to widely adopt computing devices like tablets and iPads. In 2010, the US Department of Education released its National Education Technology Plan (NETP) in November 2010, which elaborated their plan for an e-learning model for the education industry. Such initiatives taken by the private and the government sectors will give a major boost to the e-learning market in the next few years. This is in the education sector.
Now, let’s see how the corporate sector looks like. The corporate training sector is the fasted growing sector in the US. Online education in organizations is expected to grow by 13% per year up to 2017. In the USA, approximately 77% of the companies offer online training to the employees. They have learned that every dollar they spend on e-learning for their employees, will give them a return-on-investment of $30. And, this is a huge return-on-investment!
Here are some advantages that e-learning offers to corporate employees. Organizations are reaping these benefits to the core.
- Employees can learn whenever and wherever they wish to. It does not matter where they live or which time-zone they belong to. The courses are available online. The learner, simply, has to log in and choose the course to start.
- Most online learning courses are self-paced. If a learner finds a particular module tough at the first attempt, he can revise it again without feeling guilty delaying the other learners. Similarly, if he feels that a particular module is easy for him, he can skip it or skim through it, without having to wait for other learners.
- Attending traditional classrooms and having to sit through an entire session can be uncomfortable. Learners have to spend time and money traveling to and from the venue. In e-learning, learners do not have to be present physically at any venue. They can access all materials online, from the comforts of their home or while traveling to and from work.
- E-learning courses are cost effective. There is no cost on booking the venue or training equipment. Almost no stationeries are involved. Participants and facilitators do not need to travel to attend the training. This saves a lot of money on travel costs too. One course can be distributed widely and reused many times.
Corporate e-learning challenges and solutions
Of course, there is another side of the coin too. E-learning does come with a lot of challenges, but the good news is that most of them can be overcome.
Challenge #1: Less awareness
This is a major challenge that organizations need to overcome. Most employees and employers are not aware of the advantages of online education. They have a mind block that online education may not be as effective as traditional face-to-face classes.
The only way to overcome this challenge is to promote it. Planning a marketing campaign and using it to create awareness about the benefits of e-learning goes a long way in overcoming this blockade. Learning events, e-books, blogs are some of the ways to promote the long-term gains of online education. Although, with the millennial workforce entering the work stream, this task will not be too difficult.
Challenge #2: Unmotivated learners
Motivating learners is a huge task for learning designers. E-learning is mostly self-paced. This can be a benefit as well as a challenge. The benefit lies in the freedom it allows learners to access the course whenever and wherever they wish. But the challenge of motivating the learners to access and complete remains. Had it been a classroom training, learners would have been forced to attend it. But leaving them to their own devices does not guarantee participation.
The course needs to be designed in a manner that the learner is hooked on to it from the beginning. The audience should know what is in it for him and how will it add value to their life. If you, as a designer, can sell the value proposition from screen one, then half the battle is won. The idea is to make the content relevant to the job role of the learner. You need to convince them that they would gain at the end of the course, and they are sure to be motivated to complete it. Storytelling and scenario based learning designs keep the learners engaged. But, you have to be very careful about where to apply it. Not all topics demand this treatment.
Challenge #3: Course content
Along with the design, the content needs to be robust, too. It is common for the clients to provide insufficient and unstructured content. But if designers create a course based on that, then the audience will not be interested in taking it.
A good way to overcome this challenge is to involve the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the beginning. That way, you can be sure that the course content is relevant and complete. You cannot present unstructured content to your audience by any means.
Challenge #4: Evaluation
Evaluating the effectiveness of a course is extremely important and challenging, at the same time. Unless you determine the Return-on-Investment, how will you convince the employers and the employees of the benefits of online education? There has to be measurable metrics at the end of the course.
The Kirkpatrick Model is the worldwide standard followed by learning designers to measure the effectiveness of a training. It has four levels and every level measures a certain aspect.
- Level 1 is the ‘Reaction’ level and it evaluates the response of the participants towards the training.
- Level 2 is the ‘Learning’ level, and it measures how much of the content did the learners, actually, learn.
- Level 3 is the ‘Behavior’ level and it evaluates whether the learners are applying their knowledge to their job or not.
- The final level is the ‘Results’ level and it measures the positive impact of the training on the revenues of the organization. Each level has its methods and tools by which you can determine metrics.
The market for Learning Management System (LMS)
The growing trend of corporates adopting e-learning systems is expected to affect the LMS market growth positively. Corporates have embraced the LMS to automate tasks like employee registrations and tracking. Most LMS have useful features like discussion forums, online training, and video conferencing. Some have mobile learning functionalities too. Tin Can API technology is the next-generation of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) and will create an impact in the LMS market. The popularity is based on features like the ability to track learning plans, team-based learning, and performance tracking.
According to Forbes the LMS market is at $2.5 billion at present and is expected to grow to $8 billion by 2018. The USA is predicted to lead the market as a result of enhanced collaborations between organizations and North American learning management systems providers.
eLeaP is a flexible and customizable learning management system. It is web-based and so no need to install any software. It is simple, scalable, and seamless. The interface is intuitive for both technical and non-technical users. is The available features help users to create their own branded learning portal and turn their courses into saleable products. Users can create multiple, personalized training paths for the learners. eLeaP has a robust automated reporting feature. Users can, easily, access metrics on events completion, training paths, quizzes, and so on.
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Sayantani Banerjee is a professional with 13+ years of experience in the field of content writing, eLearning, and instructional design. She is passionate about anything related to eLearning.