Tech headlines for July 2013 include: Hybrid Learning Models Will Continue to Grow in Higher Ed, Mobile Learning to Reach $2.1 Billion in North America by 2017, New Study Examines Use and Performance of LMSs and TMSs, Federal Mobile Workforce Appreciates Mobile Devices, and Yahoo Acquires Blogging and Gaming Platforms.

Hybrid Learning Models Will Continue to Grow in Higher Ed 

A national survey conducted by PulsePoint Group in May 2013 asked 1,500 high school graduates, college graduates, and post-graduate degree holders their opinions of and experiences with online learning for higher education. Results indicate that online efforts will grow, especially in some sectors, but won’t replace the on-campus experience. 

Key findings of the report include: 

  • The main perceived benefit for online education over on-campus education is not price—it is practicality. Of 24 categories of benefits, the only one in which online education was perceived as superior was “fits this time in my life.”
  • Online education is perceived as more relevant to improving specific skills or taking specific courses than to obtaining a degree.
  • Institutional impact of online education may be greater on community colleges and institutions with major adult education activities than on the undergraduate programs of selective four-year institutions, at least in the near term.
  • Certain kinds of courses—those less dependent on personal interaction—may prove better suited to the online experience than others, and that courses that combine both online and in-person elements may be the most successful.
  • There is moderate interest in taking online courses in the next three years. But roughly one-tenth of respondents expressed a much greater interest, and these tended to be the respondents who had Master’s and Doctorate degrees. This suggests institutions expanding their online programs should target this segment over the next several years.
  • Young people are expected to become major influencers of their parents and other adults. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents’ children who are 14+ years old have taken an online course.
  • The market is extremely price sensitive. Interest is high in free courses, but price resistance rises quickly and steeply; over 60 percent wouldn’t pay $500 for an online course and nearly 80 percent say they wouldn’t pay $1,000. This may reflect online’s continuing status as the “second best” choice of most people, and heightened price sensitivity on the part of the people for whom its appeal is greatest.
  • Reputation and “brand” remain critical in respondents’ interest and willingness to pay. In a sector where reputation is often a function of selectivity, the expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) presents institutions with a paradox: Strong brands will give the best institutions an edge online, but exploiting that edge in a mass market risks diluting the brand. Successful schools will need to strategically target their audiences and constantly reinforce the brand.
  • There is strong support for the idea that public universities should offer online courses as a matter of public policy. Half the respondents said this is important to improve the public’s overall education level, and 64 percent said it would help expand access to higher education.

Mobile Learning to Reach $2.1 Billion in North America by 2017

The revenues for mobile learning products in North America reached an imposing $1.4 billion in 2012. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 7.6 percent and revenues will climb to $2.1 billion by 2017, according to a recent Ambient Insight report called, "The 2012-2017 North America Mobile Learning Market." 

North America has the second-largest revenues for mobile learning after Asia. The overall growth rate in Canada is 20.8 percent, and the growth rate in the United States is 6.1 percent. One reason for this discrepancy is that the United States is a mature market—over a decade old. 

"The majority of mobile learning revenues in North America are concentrated in the U.S.," reports Sam S. Adkins, Ambient Insight’s chief research officer. "However, the growth rates in Canada are over three times higher than in the US. The dynamics of both countries can be complex and this report provides a detailed analysis of the supply chains in each country." 

"There are major differences in buying behavior between the U.S. and Canada," comments Ambient Insight CEO Tyson Greer. "Suppliers cannot use US buying-behavior patterns as a baseline for doing business in Canada. For example, the buying behavior in the academic segments in the two countries is fundamentally different." 

There are two sections in this report: a demand-side analysis and a supply-side analysis. Additionally, there is an index of suppliers competing in the region. The demand-side section includes five-year forecasts for Canada and the U.S. broken out by eight buying segments in each country: consumers, federal government agencies, local/state/provincial government agencies, PreK-12 institutions, higher education institutions, corporations, associations, and healthcare buyers. The supply-side section provides revenue forecasts for five types of mobile learning products and services including: packaged content, value added services (VAS), custom content development services, authoring tools and platforms, and personal learning devices. 

"The revenues for packaged mobile learning content are heavily concentrated in the consumer and healthcare segments in both countries, but the type of content purchased is different in each country," adds Adkins. "One interesting trend is that between 2010 and 2012, over sixty native Mobile Learning tools and platforms came on the market." 

Over 170 Mobile Learning suppliers in North America are cited in this report. A free abstract is available at http://www.ambientinsight.com/Reports/MobileLearning.aspx

New Study Examines Use and Performance of LMSs and TMSs 

According to 2013 Learning and Talent Management Systems Buyer Survey, conducted by In Elearning! and Government Elearning! Magazines, more than one-third of respondents (35 percent) plan to add, change, or replace their current system. Executives expect to invest an average of $818,466 on their new system(s), up from $439,000 from 2012, a whopping 86 percent increase. This speaks to the value enterprises are placing on employee performance. The survey tallied 243 responses, 73 percent coming from the corporate sector and 27 percent from the public sector. 

Most striking is that corporations, government-funded organizations (including education), and non-profits are equally committed to the investment in enterprise-wide development and talent management. Eighty-seven (87) percent of all respondents have an LMS or TMS in the organization, up from 82 percent in 2012. Furthermore, of those respondents who plan to add, change or replace their LMS, 71 percent of will do so over the next 24 months. 

While TMS systems are still early in adoption compared to LMSs, talent suites are increasing in use at 28 percent, up from 22 percent in 2012. SaaS-based TMSs account for 17 percent, and enterprise-based TMSs account for 11 percent. 

Eighty-eight (88) percent of future buyers indicated a platform preference for their next LMS or TMS. Cloud/SaaS-based LMS accounted for 45 percent of future purchases. Use of LMSs that are on premises (behind the enterprise firewall) has declined from 23 percent to 19 percent in 2012, while open-source LMS popularity has remained constant at 7 percent. 

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Six percent of respondents use an enterprise learning content management system (LCMS); 12 percent use a SaaS/cloud-based LCMS; and 7 percent use an open-source LCMS. 

Eighty-eight percent of LMS deployments are across multiple locations, 39 percent of which are multinational, while 22 percent are deployed at single locations only. Similarly, 62 percent of TMS respondents are using their system across multiple locations, and 34 percent support multi-national sites. 

Buyers are seeking more capabilities in their new LMS, wanting integrated reporting, mobile authoring, social network tools, virtual learning, and cloud-based or SaaS systems. In addition, course tracking (91 percent), web conferencing (78 percent) and assessment (76 percent) repeat as the top “must” features of new systems. And big jumps occurred in: course marketing (+20 points), collaborative authoring (+15), workforce planning (+13), and peer ratings (+11). The trend is clearly working collaboratively, effectively and driving learning consumption. 

The largest year-to-year declines by percentage points are: rapid development (-17 points), recruitment (-14) testing and assessment (-14) and on-demand learning options (-11). in most cases, the drivers are maturing markets or conditions. 

Talent system buyers’ top “must-haves” in their future systems are: skills gap analysis, career development, performance management, and performance reviews—the same as 2012.

Increasing in importance to prospective buyers was quality (up 3 points), interoperability (up 6 points), reputation (up 6 points) and open architecture (up 22 points). drops in importance were reported for customer service (declined 22 points), scorm compliance (declined 16 points), and awards (declined 4 points).

 

The Learning & Talent Management Study is conducted annually by Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines. Past studies can be downloaded and benchmarked against current year. Receive the 2013 LMS/TMS Buyer Study Infographic free at www.2elearning.com under “Resource Center.” 

Federal Mobile Workforce Appreciates Mobile Devices

The Mobile Work Exchange recently surveyed more than 300 federal employees who use mobile devices for work to understand the end-user perspective. Highlights of the study include: 

  • Federal employees believe they are more productive as a result of mobile devices, gaining, on average, nine hours per week. Federal government annual productivity gains from mobile devices is approximately $28 billion. 
  • Ninety-five (95) percent of respondents say work has improved as a result of having access to mobile devices; 93 percent use a laptop for work purposes, 64 percent use a smartphone, and 19 percent use a tablet. 
  • Feds are device diverse and are bringing their own; more than half (55 percent) using smartphones use their own. 
  • While agencies are taking mobile security steps, BYOD (bring your own device) security risks are not yet locked down; just 11 percent who use personal devices for work say their agency has a BYOD policy. 
  • But it’s not always safe. Storing work email on devices, coupled with lack of password protection and downloading personal apps is a recipe for disaster. 
  • Fifty-eight (58) percent say agencies can take greater advantage of mobile devices and 57 percent would consider paying to have their personal device updated or certified as safe. 

Yahoo Acquires Blogging and Gaming Platforms 

In recent weeks, Yahoo has made several major investments into social media. First, it acquired the blogging and social network service Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Tumblr allows users to create their own blogs, follow other blogs on the network, and like them or reblog posts. Yahoo plans to keep Tumblr an independently operated business with David Karp, Tumblr's 26-year-old founder and CEO, remaining on. 

More recently, Yahoo revealed the acquisition of gaming infrastructure provider PlayerScale. Terms of the transaction were not released. The Belmont, California-based company enables games to be played across social and mobile platforms. For example, a user can start a game on an iPhone, suspend it, then return on a PC to finish it. It also gives game developers a new way to track their revenue and users across multiple platforms. http://www.eweek.com/hqxapi/it?ids=20130702093741442471211&ca=n&coo=y PlayerScale's Player.IO is the platform for online games played on a daily basis by an estimated 150 million people worldwide, and is now being implemented in 4,000 games from more than 2,600 game developers, including SGN (Social Gaming Network, which has put a big emphasis on cross-platform development), Con Artist Games, and 505 Games. 

These transactions add Yahoo to the list of established Internet companies, including Google  and Facebook that have spent $1 billion or more apiece to buy startup companies in hopes of gaining an edge in growth.