Spending for E-learning Soars

Spending for E-learning Soars

Mobile Learning, E-Learning Development and Social Learning Networks Lead Adoption

U.S. corporations appear to be spending loads more for enterprise-wide e-learning initiatives and implementation this year. Total expenditures per company extrapolate

Mobile Learning, E-Learning Development and Social Learning Networks Lead Adoption

U.S. corporations appear to be spending loads more for enterprise-wide e-learning initiatives and implementation this year. Total expenditures per company extrapolate to $3.50 million versus $1.46 million in 2011 — an increase of 240 percent.

This anomaly presents itself even though average learning budgets in the corporate sector remain relatively flat at $4.75 million versus $4.90 million in 2011. The message is clear that organizations are being asked to do more with the same dollars, and learning executives in the corporate sector are rising to that challenge.

Statistics come from a June, 2012, Web-based survey conducted by Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines. More than 600 organizations responded, including 145 from the public sector — all of which have an active or planned e-learning initiative.

Conversely, the public sector records a 19 percent drop in total learning expenditures over 2011 levels (but an increase of more than 233 percent from 2010).

In the public sector, organizations reported annual e-learning investments of $7 million, down 19 percent from 2011 but still up 233 percent from 2010 investment levels. The average organization size grew to 33,990 from last year’s 30,421, which means that less is planned to be spent on individual learners: approximately $205 per learner in 2012, down from $274 per learner in 2011.

The net result is that public sector organizations had to shift their programs to
concentrate more on internal initiatives, in lieu of the extended enterprise. Of course, in the public sector, a lot of change can enter the system quickly, based on new administration directives and congressional mandates, all of which will intensify as we turn into 2013.

Where’s the Money Going?

The category of Training to the Extended Enterprise— which includes not only internal audiences, but also customers, partners and a host of other external stakeholders — is an extremely important initiative in the corporate sector. But it falls from first place to last place in the public sector. The most money is spent on Compliance Training, which climbs to the No. 1 spot in both sectors.

From a tools perspective in the corporate sector, 82 percent of the organizations say that they use E-learning Development Tools, and rising to the No. 2 slot is Web Meeting Solutions with 77 percent of the organizations reporting extensive use. Also rising to one of the top slots is the category of Content Development Tools with 76 percent of the organizations indicating adoption. Fifty-six percent report that they use Off-the-Shelf Content; and 52 percent report that they use Project Management Tools on a regular basis.


Highest on the “planning to add” list for the corporate sector over the next 12
months is Mobile Learning, followed by E-learning Development Tools and Social
Learning Networks.

In the public sector, the top training priority in 2012 shifts back to Compliance
Training from last year’s Extended Enterprise Programs. However, the surprising news is that Extended Enterprise Programs plummets to last place in 2012. Closely behind Compliance Training in the No. 2 slot is Professional/Industry Training, which is up from its No. 10 spot in 2011. Desktop/IT, Leadership, and Train-the-Trainer initiatives all tie for the No. 3 spot, all of which move up from their 2011 positions of No. 5, No.6, and No. 8 in the rankings, respectively. Customer Service, Mission Training, and Management Training tie for the No. 7 slot, but are down from their positions in 2011 of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 in spending, respectively. These trends indicate that the public sector is investing in internal bench strength and workforce performance, versus their 2011 focus on the extended enterprise.

Summarizing the key trends and perspectives within the corporate space show
that initiatives and buying patterns are changing to reflect the utilization of new
technology platforms for E-learning Development, Mobile Learning, and Social Learning Networks:

Implementations are beginning to stretch among more categories of training initiatives, but Compliance Training leads implementation initiatives with 25 percent of the organizations ranking it as either their No. 1 or No. 2 priorities. Other top training implementations include Product Training, Leadership Development, and Professional/Industry-Specific training initiatives.

When it comes to delivery choices, 69 percent of the organizations indicate that e-learning and other non-classroom venues are used to deliver more than 50 percent of training.

Eighty-two percent of the organizations say that they use E-learning Development Tools, but also rising in use are Web Conferencing, Content Development Tools, Off-the-Shelf Content, and Project Management Tools.

Fifty-two percent report that they are using LMS systems on-premise, and 33 percent say they now have SaaS/cloud-based installations.

Highest on the “planning to add” list over the next 12 months are Mobile Learning in the No. 1 spot; followed by E-learning Development tools at No. 2 and Social Networks at No. 3.

Looking at current implementations, deployments and initiatives, corporations told us the following were in various stages of implementation or planning:

>> 86 percent report that they are implementing an E-learning programs;

>> 34 percent say they are implementing Global Learning programs;

>> 33 percent say they are rolling out Mobile Learning or Support initiatives;

>> 31 percent report implementing Social Learning programs;

>> 25 percent say they are implementing programs for User-Developed Content; and

>> 24 percent are still in the process of rolling out programs to support the Extended Enterprise.

Comparing these results to trends and patterns in the public sector, 145 agencies and other public-sector members report:

>> 60 percent of training hours are being conducted outside the traditional classroom — a continued upward trend;

>> traditional instructor-led classroom based training declined to 40 percent
from 48 percent in 2011;

>> e-learning accounts for 40 percent of all training hours, up from 37 percent in 2011;

>> virtual classrooms account for 20 percent of all training hours, like 2011;

>> self-paced training continues its downward trend, ending up at 23 percent of all training hours; and

>> social learning held at 10 percent for a second year in a row

Leading the public sector’s 2012 purchasing expectations, with 47 percent of the organizations plan to acquire them, are Elearning Development Tools. Other popular purchases in the public sector: Mobile Learning (38 percent), Web Conferencing solutions (30 percent); Knowledge Portals (26 percent), Content Development Tools (25 percent) and Virtual Classrooms (23 percent).

Though Mobile Learning already has a substantial base of deployment, the survey reveals that expenditures for such products and services will increase by 152 percent this year over 2011. Outsourced Services comes in second with an 86 percent increase; Virtual Classrooms and Social Networking initiatives are next with a 76 percent increase; E-learning Development Tools and Collaborative Workspaces tie with a 73 percent increase; and Off-the-Shelf Content acquisitions show an increase of 35 percent.

Measuring Impact

The top method of measuring impact for both the corporate sector and the public sector is Employee Feedback: 78 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Typically, this is done via an instructor/class evaluation at the end of a course. The second most popular method is via Testing and Assessments, used by 61 percent of the corporate organizations reporting, and 67 percent of the public-sector groups. In the corporate sector, 57 percent report that they use Completion Rates to measure impact, and 49 percent of the public sector agrees. Also tied at the 57 percent mark in the corporate space, was Manager Feedback, although in the public sector, that was only used by 27 percent.


 A growing conversation revolves around how to measure impact of new social
learning initiatives. The answers vary from ranking peer’s advice and giving “thumbs up” to great information Websites, to participation and usage rates. Harder evidence is beginning to appear around how informal learning (an inherent part of social learning networks) impacts the time a knowledge worker has to spend to find answers. More information is starting to gather around employee performance when social learning networks are deployed. Forward-thinking companies are betting that they can take a bite out of the standard metric that knowledge workers are spending 25 percent of their day searching for job-related information. Dropping that search time by only 1 to 2 percent can have a dramatic impact on payroll and other costs, as well as the speed at which an organization can deploy new initiatives.

Statistics seem to point that the tide is changing when it comes to supporting
“informal learning” — often estimated to be about 80 percent of the learning that transpires in a normal enterprise. The time could come when asking the learning and development group to justify a social learning network — the newest technology platform for supporting enterprise-wide “informal training” — would be about as unusual as asking them to justify telephones and email for workers.

Takeaways for 2012

The biggest surprise is the level of spending increase in the corporate sector for
e-learning initiatives. That’s one of the larger year-over-year gains reported in the past decade — and a very telling number when it comes to what’s left for classroom deployments. In the public sector, there are still larger expenditures than two years ago, but with a change in focus away from the extended enterprise.

The very strong gains for Mobile Learning in both sectors seems to indicate an
industry-wide endorsement of mobile technology as a viable and effective means of learning delivery. It also appears that with this increased awareness of technological solutions, learning executives and practitioners are now considering other technologies. There is a lot of consensus around social networks and e-learning development tools, but as demonstrated in the public sector, there’s also a significant investment in 3-D and gaming solutions.

Whether the increased spending trend for e-learning becomes a predictor of new learning delivery strategies remains to be seen. However, one thing is for sure. Elearning and mobile learning are definitely leading the way for both the corporate and public sectors, when it comes to learning solutions in use and planned over the next 12 months. And finally, social learning networks, the newest purveyor of informal training, may be in its genesis.

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