How Learning Is Evolving

By Catherine Upton
and Jerry Roche

E-learning practices (as opposed to traditional instructor-led classroom practices) continue to grow among all organizations both public and private in the United States.

On the corporate front, however, changes are most evident. Corporations are shifting emphasis to developing high-performance teams and continuing to serve the extended enterprise with customer, partner and dealer training.

In the U.S., investment in e-learning will increase to $4.5 million in 2013 per respondent, according to the 2013 E-learning User Study: Private Sector conducted by Elearning! magazine.That’s a 28% increase over 2012 and the third straight year of double-digit growth.

The survey also notes that enterprise learning budgets averaged $6.2 million, up slightly from 2012’s $6.07 million annually per respondent. In the public sector, the annual learning and workplace technology (e-learning) budget is $6.9 million, almost level with $7.0 million in 2012.


Current Trends

E-learning, virtual learning and blended learning continue to grow in adoption.

Sixty percent of training hours are being deployed outside the traditional instructor-led classroom, to include e-learning, social learning, self-paced, blended, virtual classrooms and online meetings. Reflective of that, learning management systems (LMSs), learning content management systems (LCMSs) and talent management systems (TMSs) are all experiencing very high rates of growth, given their installed bases.

Additionally, training priorities have shifted slightly since last year’s survey from sales-focused initiatives to team soft-skills development. In other words, the emphasis is moving toward building high-performance teams.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents report e-learning deployment in multiple U.S. locations while 37% deploy e-learning in multi-national sites; and 24% report e-learning in one location, up from 16% in 2012.

When it comes to training priorities, Compliance repeats are top priority among 58% of respondents. The next four are in a virtual tie: Desktop/IT, Professional/Industry, Product Training and Management/Supervision. Drops were seen in product training and sales & marketing of 2 points, indicating a broader focus on developing skills across the enterprise.

Systems and Tools

E-learning Development Tools (used by 75% of respondents), Assessment & Testing Tools (68%) and Web Conferencing Tools (71%) top the list of tools and solutions in current use.

In this study, companies that plan to purchase a cloud-based (software-as-aservice) LCMS are projected to grow by 56% in 2013. Likewise, cloud-based TMS purchases are expected to grow by 40% and cloud-based LMS purchases are to grow by 38% over the next year.

Highest on the “planning to purchase” list are Mobile Learning (31%), E-learning Development Tools (30%) and Social Networks (20%). Not far behind are Wikis, Blogs or Forums and Collaborative Work Spaces with 19% each.

The trend toward flat user-generated content, flat learning and on-demand access is growing via mobile deployment, social and collaborative learning.


In the E-learning User Study 2013: Public Sector, conducted by Elearning! magazine, 87% of respondents said they have an active or planned enterprise learning initiative.

Respondents use a wide range of learning and workplace technologies. Purchase plans were reported across all categories from 2% to 50% and ranging from LMSs to mobile learning tools. Clearly, the public sector is migrating content to virtual, social and mobile platforms, and investing in the enabling platforms to manage it all.

For the purposes of this survey, public sector includes government entities, associations, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.

Current Trends

Fifty percent of training hours are being conducted outside the traditional classroom-based, face-to-face format, down from 2012’s 60%. E-learning accounts for 33% of all training hours, and virtual classroom accounts for 18% of hours.

In 2013, the top three training priorities remained the same: Compliance, Professional/ Industry and Leadership. Customer Service, Management/Supervisor and Interpersonal Skills all jumped in priority to be ranked four, five and six.

Annual learning and workplace technology (e-learning) budgets of respondents is $6.9 million, almost level with $7.0 in 2012. However, the enterprise learning budget was down 41%, to $8.66 million in 2013.

Clearly, training has shifted to more efficient methods of e-learning, virtual, social and mobile.

Soft-skills training is the dominant content delivered via e-learning, blended and virtual instruction. Fifty percent deploy IT training, and 49% deploy compliance training via e-learning.

Testing and assessment jumps to first place for the first time in 2013, with 74% using this measurement method. Employee feedback falls to second (69%), followed far behind by course completion rates (50%).

Systems and Tools

Respondents use a wide range of learning and workplace technologies. Eighty-nine percent are using an LMS, 63% an LCMS and 19% a TMS. All areas are experiencing high rates of growth, including LMS with average of 16%, LCMS at 17% and TMS with 105% rate of

growth over installed base.

Performance management, recruitment, career development, compensation management and peer evaluation are all exceeding 25% rates of growth.

The top e-learning tools in use are: Web conferencing (88%), virtual classrooms (82%), social networks (75%), assessment & testing (71%), and e-learning development tools (67%).

Products and services with highest rate of increases are the same as 2012: 3-D/simulations up 220%, gaming up 313% (in part due to the lower installed base), and mobile learning up 108%. Following them are: content development services and content rating tools at 108%, peer rating tools and outsourced services at 100% rate of growth.


>> Noting a savings in time, money and employee resources with no negative effect on knowledge transfer, organizations are turning to e-learning practices more than ever.

>> The public sector is investing on internal bench strength, workforce performance and customer-facing initiatives, even though there has been a recent trend toward austerity on the part of local, county, state and federal governments.

>> The numbers on cloud-based learning management and learning content management systems are growing rapidly across all sectors.

>> The virtual world is exploding: 53% of the sample is now engaged in either virtual events or virtual classrooms.

>> Regulations continue to drive compliance training across both sectors.

>> The investments being made by government institutions and non-profits indicate a fast conversion from current instructor-led training, but also fast conversion to new platforms of mobile and social and highly engaging platforms of 3-D, virtual learning and gaming.

—The Elearning! Magazine Group, which includes Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, produces these annual studies to provide deeper insight into the application of enterprise learning and workplace technologies. The 2013 respondents represent subscribers, non-subscribers and community members.

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