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e-Learning Optimism

By Bob Little / December 2009

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The e-learning sector is "flowering" in 2009 despite the recession, or so says a recent report on e-learning in the U.K. ("The UK e-learning market 2009," [PDF] by David Patternson, Glynn Jung, and Gill Broadhead).

Published by Learning Light, a Sheffield-based centre of excellence in the use of e-learning and learning technologies in the workplace, the report's principal finding is that the U.K. e-learning industry remains "robustly positive in its view of the market and the prospect for continuing growth."

Using financial modeling and third-party research, the report suggests that the annual size of the U.K. e-learning industry is currently between £300 million and £450 million, with growth rates forecasted between 6.7 percent and 8 percent for 2010.

"Our view is based not just on more companies using e-learning and learning technologies but also on such factors as marketing departments commissioning learning materials to support customers," commented David Patterson one of the report's three authors. "Another key factor is the adeptness with which the U.K. e-learning industry is adopting and exploiting new media for delivering learning, such as gaming and immersive learning scenarios, leading to the eventual contextualization and personalization of learning being promoted by companies such as the LCMS producer, Giunti Labs."

The report acknowledges that the current recession has resulted in downward price pressure on developers and vendors, while cuts in training budgets and public sector projects have also had an adverse effect. Nonetheless, the authors remain optimistic that Britain's e-learning industry is set fair to weather the economic downturn.

"There is no doubt that companies will come and go—just as they did in the easier times," Broadhead said. "We can only reflect the optimism and confidence, the innovation and enthusiasm that characterized our research findings."

In passing, the Learning Light report mentions that the U.K.'s market, along with that of Scandinavia, is one of the most mature e-learning markets in Europe. Patterson said: "We believe the Scandinavian market to be worth some €1 billion—compared with the U.K.'s €650 million to €700 million. The Scandinavian market is forecast to grow at 8 percent over the next year, a figure which could also be attributed to the U.K. market. The next largest market in Europe is that of France, but this is predicted to grow in the next year by some 15 percent to between €300 million and €350 million. An aggregate of the U.K., Scandinavian, and French e-learning markets accounts for some 80 percent of the total European market."

This report began as an update on the report (available from Learning Light's e-Learning Centre website, written by John Helmer, on behalf of Learning Light, in 2007. Whatever you think about the accuracy (or otherwise) of Learning Light's figures, at the very least this report is a serious attempt at quantifying the U.K.'s e-learning sector. It's the most comprehensive set of figures that anyone has—and their real value will be seen in the future, providing "base figures" for comparison with contemporary findings.


  • Sun, 17 Jan 2010
    Post by Cindy Wolfe

    E-learning is here to stay - although the methods of delivery will change as technology changes. This report delivers some interesting statistics, including the growth rate forecast as 6.7% to 8% (p. 17). Of note is the phrase, "just in time learning" which could lead to a real change in curriculum, including a requirement for relativity in the classroom. Social networking tools are being integrated successfully in e-learning. We need to be careful that we build on pedogogical principles - learners continue to need to learn "how to learn" as well as "learn." With all of the new tools available to the distance learning educator, are we loosing sight of rich course content? Thanks, Bob, for the commentary on the "other" side of learning - profitability.