The LMS I Know Is Not Dying (Nor Is It Even Ill)

Everything That Can Be Digital, Will Be

“Everything that can be digital, will be.”

Attributed to Benny Landa, founder of Indigo, the world’s first commercially successful digital offset printing press, in 1993.
In the past 15 years, the digitization of media has made content more flexible, affordable and accessible. Content streams from news to music are rapidly transitioning to digital delivery. This transition is also evident in the world of corporate training with the emergence of elearning. What do other media transition stories tell us about the evolving market for elearning?

Newspapers Become RSS Readers

In the past ten years, print newspaper advertising revenue has fallen by half, and circulation of print newspapers per capita has dropped by 37%.  Analysts project the extinction of the newspaper in the United States by 2017.
Meanwhile, in the last 10 years, 34% of Americans have started consuming news online, as part of a mix of other media. What do people like about getting their news online?  They have free or cheap access to the latest, up-to-the-minute information from millions of news providers, from the local to the international. 

Records Become Tapes Which Become CDs Which Become MP3s

Consumers are purchasing about half as many physical albums today than they did 10 years ago. In nine years, digital music has captured half of the U.S. music marketplace. iTunes is the leading music vendor, with 28% of the market.
What do people like about purchasing digital music?  Specificity, convenience, portability and diversity.  Consumers purchase only the specific songs they want, not complete albums.  They make purchases and receive the product immediately.  Their music files work correctly in any piece of hardware. They choose from the world’s music marketplace, not just what the local record store stocks.


Everything Becomes a Television

People are watching as many hours of television as ever. They are, however, supplementing their conventional television consumption with streaming Internet services. For example, since Hulu’s creation in 2007, the service has grown to reach 30 million users monthly and estimates it will collect $240 million in 2010 revenue. Furthermore, 37.3% of cable subscribers have digital video recorders, which enable them to record live TV broadcasts and watch the programs at their convenience.
More Americans are no longer paying for cable. In 2008, 200,000 households canceled their cable service, and another 600,000 households canceled their service in 2009. This number is projected to rise to 1.6 million cancellations a year by 2011.
What do people like about consuming television programming online?  Consumers use internet broadcasting services and DVRs to be the boss of their own private television networks. They pay for only the channels and programs they want to watch, and they set their own schedule.

The Transition from Training to eLearning Accelerates

In 2009, U.S. companies spent a 10-year low of $104 billion on training, marking a $30 billion drop in spending since 2007. At the same time, companies are investing strongly in elearning: the global market will total $52.6 billion in 2010, and the United States accounts for 60% of that market ($31.56 billion).  Within the elearning market, the worldwide demand for English language course content is growing by a compound annual growth rate of 22.1%.
How can the content creation community meet this growing demand? In order to realize the potential of the elearning market, the training industry must reproduce the successful features from other content delivery streams. Like digital news, music and television, elearning content must be:
  • Portable and easy to deploy in different hardware
  • Convenient to find and purchase
  • Affordable and easily “chunk-able”: consumers want to purchase only the specific content they wish to use
  • Easy to evaluate within a diverse marketplace
  • Immediately accessible and available at any time
At OpenSesame, we are working to  solve the problems of portability, convenience, affordability, diversity and accessibility by fostering competition and innovation. Of course, instructional designers must also create interesting, engaging courses! But from a structural perspective, we believe that we will meet consumers’ needs by enabling them to shop in an open, transparent and competitive marketplace. In addition to connecting buyers to hundreds of sellers and a deep variety of courses, our website enables buyers to hear from their peers, manage their budgets simply and purchase only what they need, when they need it.
We all win when elearning companies can bring their courses to market in a common format with transparent communication between buyers and sellers. We believe that we are creating a digital media delivery system that will unlock the potential of elearning.