Learning Content is Helping to Revive the Learning Market
By Jim Lundy
Learning Content is hot. A number of twitter and live discussions at #IBMConnect last week, combined with the completion of some of our new research, prompted this blog post. While some proclaim that learning software is hot, it isn’t as hot as the exploding Learning Content market. Our view is that the newfound demand for digital learning content is helping to drive a resurgence in the learning market overall.
Most software markets do not grow more than 12-20% a year. The Learning market is no different, but after a fast start ten years ago, it kind of stalled out. After several years in which LMS vendors were sold (Learn.com (now Taleo Learn), Plateau (now Successfactors) and others), we are seeing a large number of small business focused learning software providers emerge (aka LMS Lite providers). They are getting funding and they are getting some market traction. A number of them are under evaluation to be named as a HOT VENDOR for 2013. However, the discussion is often about what drives the Learning market?
That brings us to Learning Content. The Learning Content market has always been large – very large, but it has been a fractured market, often due to poor business models by content developers and poor business execution. I had a short Twitter exchange last week with Paul Sparta, founder and former CEO of Plateau (which is now part of SuccessFactors). He was skeptical about the learning content market, and given his experience in learning, he has every right to be.
Tablets and Learning
So what has changed? We see three things happening in tandem. First, Tablet Computing has arrived. Tablets, such as the iPad and numerous Android based tablets are becoming the new multi-functional learning device. I proclaimed that two years ago and now it is happening.
The second is that given the tablet computing era, people want digital content. All forms of content are being digitized and along with that, content authoring tools are becoming much better at creating a true interactive course. Having covered learning for ten of my twelve years at Gartner, I had to immerse myself in content authoring. Content Authoring tools are getting better at helping professionals to master the art of creating a course. It is still an art to create a great simulation, but that too is getting better as gaming engines get easier to leverage.
Third, Content Marketplaces (stores) are emerging. It is happening first in higher ed, with iTunes U from Apple being one of the prime examples. One thing people overlook is that iTunes U provides an author with a decent authoring environment. That said there are many other learning content authoring choices, including firms such as Adobe, Kenexa, Lectora, MZinga, and more.
Universities are opening up their content as well with MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) coming to bear as well. Stores based on MOOC courses are here and they include Canvas Network, Class Central and Coursera.
There is certainly more to say here, but the next race that is coming is the one that will monetize the $100 Billion corporate learning content market. Skillsoft and Lynda.com have a head start but now online stores offer a large potential for lots of additional players to emerge.
The other race is will the K-12 market take off even faster as new entrants emerge to offer richer, more interactive content than the traditional textbook companies. More on Learning Content in future posts and as part of our Learning Agenda.