Right before the holiday weekend, I joined Quora — another social network to which I will inevitably become addicted. I have been enjoying prowling through the thoughtful discussions going on there, and particularly enjoying running into Twitter friends there (hey, @mrch0mp3rs!).
A recent Quora discussion has prompted me to think about how fragmented the elearning market is, and the implications for all of us working hard to provide better access to learning and development activities.
The eLearning Market Is Fragmented
First, some numbers. The global elearning market grew to more than $50 billion in 2010, and the market segment specifically focused on elearning content is $12.5 billion. That’s billion with a b! Nonetheless, if you consult IT Training magazine’s research on elearning marketplace, you’ll see that even the biggest players represent only a small fraction of the overall market size.
How Did It Get That Way?
Just like any other kind of content, there’s a lot of room for specialization in creating elearning content, even within the off-the-shelf market. You might have a different philosophical approach to the topic, a different design approach, or different partnerships with well-known subject matter experts. It’s hard to have the definitive course on “management” in a world with thousands of successful approaches to management.
Some companies have attempted to create vertically integrated solutions where they provide everything from content authoring to learning management system administration. The vertically integrated solution, however, is an aggressive and inflexible approach to solving a complex need.
So elearning is fragmented. What is OpenSesame doing about it?
Having a lot of market players is a good thing. Competition, after all, drives innovation and growth. The question is how do buyers and sellers find each other in a congested market? We are solving this problem.
OpenSesame is an ecommerce platform that provides complete information to the buyers and sellers in the elearning marketplace. We’re making the market more powerful for buyers by creating a simple way to efficiently research, compare and select elearning products and services.
Customers browse the OpenSesame catalog to find courses from developers they might not otherwise encounter. They use previews, course reviews and seller profiles to make educated decisions about filling their learning and development needs.
Course developers use OpenSesame to reach new distribution channels. Sharing their courses in the OpenSesame marketplace means that developers’ work is exposed to the global marketplace of elearning customers.
OpenSesame is a platform for connections.
Not only are we bringing people together who might not have any other way to find each other — we’re solving the interoperability hurdle.
As this 2005 Training Magazine article notes, “compliance with SCORM…only gets you to the 10-yard line.” Creating functional connections between authoring tools, off-the-shelf and custom content and learning management systems requires effort and attention. Customers are discouraged from mixing and matching vendors when each new partner means more and more complicated system administration.
OpenSesame addresses this challenge by connecting any standards-compliant course to any learning management system. Our proprietary technology bridges the interoperability gap between content creators and companies deploying courses in their learning management systems.
We believe that our transparent, effective marketplace will drive innovation and growth in the elearning sector.
What do you think? What can we do better to bridge these gaps?
Photo Credit: Ninja M. on Flickr