17th October 2018 by Lenny Ercoli

1998 -2008: The birth of an industry

The rise of the e-Learning industry started around 1998 with the success of personal computers, Windows, Mac and the internet. Although more like an online PowerPoint presentation, e-Learning was new and it was convenient, and it was a new world of potential.

Since then, organisations like k12, along with many training institutions, have leveraged its benefits to deliver training online from computers to mobiles and beyond.

In 2011, a study found 77% of American corporations were using e-Learning with it being the second most crucial training method within an organisation.

It is estimated nearly 25% of all employees leave their job because of limited training or learning opportunities. On the other hand, companies who do offer e-Learning and on-the-job training generate about 26% more revenue per employee.

The industry has progressed slowly over the last 15 years, and I have been at the forefront working in the field and analysing it carefully (for the sake of this article I focus on the corporate training sector).

“Nearly 25% of all employees leave their job because there simply aren’t enough training or learning opportunities.”

Just ten years ago, I walked into one of the first e-learning agencies in Melbourne.  It was called Omni AP.

It was an upbeat and vibrant office in the middle of the city. There were more than 15 staff, from instructional designers to developers and project managers. I was a kid straight out of University with a storyboard in front of me. It was a baptism of fire.

It was the first time I had a glimpse at the future of learning content. It was interactive; it was vibrant and well designed. It was animating as well, since it was in Macromedia Flash. I could see an industry blooming. It was learning and development – but on computers – and it was fun and exciting and quirky.

But the courses still had a long way to go. They were very long, and after 35 minutes, in a browser-based class with a 15-minute video, you wanted a swift bullet. It was doubtful whether the information was even retained.

The e-learning trend continued for some years, and everything was progressing steadily for learning, with an emphasis on flash-based courses.

For some reason though, the industry felt like it was always four-five years behind current web trends and technology.

“Even the big boys like Siebel, Oracle, IBM, were still using static PowerPoint like content which was like watching grass grow. Unfortunately, I’m not sure these trends have completely vanished in many corporations.”

2007: Apple changes the game

When Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace) penned an open letter entitled Thoughts on Flash he pretty much killed off any application of the flash software on his iOS platform.

At the time, Apple held the majority share of mobile sales, along with the introduction of the app store and was on the way to building the most valuable tech company in the world.

When Jobs made these decisions, the internet followed suit. Flash plugins were no longer relevant, and everyone started to build for the new standard HTML5 which was mobile friendly.

This movement affected ALL web browsers, and eLearning had to adjust. Rapid e-learning development was going strong, and Flash was a market standard with many authoring tools on the market used for various levels of customisation.

Most of these tools were limited in some way, shape or form. Customisation and development were more straightforward back then; there was less to think about when rolling out a course on one screen size, rather than tablets, mobiles and many browsers and operating systems.

2012: The Mobile & Tablet Revolution & Micro Learning

Mobile learning was a buzzword five years ago, yet companies are still struggling with it even to this day!

I mean, you can launch a course, play a video on your mobile, and report on it, but is that immersive mobile learning? I’d say no, that’s not immersive learning. It’s not interactive. It’s a video launcher.

A few tools are approaching mobile well, such as Gomo and Ed App. They have the systems in place to create mobile learning that looks great with the right user experience.

The only issue with these tools is they’re not flexible enough, and you can’t build a custom design and rollout to all devices big and small without losing the learning experience.

The wide range of devices and platforms we must cater for can defer companies to make decisions like “let’s create the course just for iPad”, “let’s create just for mobile”, or “just a simple web desktop course”.

At OCTIVO we are bridging the gap between rapid and custom learning with our one-stop shop OCTIVO Authoring tool.

2018 – Onwards: Cross Platform, Flexibility, Seasonality & Customisation

The time is now for customised learning experiences.

No one has the time to be bogged down with low-quality learning courses. Time is valuable, the learning needs to be just in time, it needs to look amazing, and it should have all the bells and whistles that drive engagement.

We have come a long way since the early days of learning content, and we are coming to the golden age of this space. Predictions currently state the global e-Learning market is to reach $325 billion by 2025.

Learning and development are not just for larger companies with big budgets; learning systems and platforms can start to reach smaller to medium businesses that also need to train staff, uphold company values and drive a culture of up-skilling and learning.

I for one am super-duper excited for the future of learning systems and the growth of the industry.

What are your thoughts on the future of learning systems? Do you agree with my retrospective? I’d love to hear; leave a message via the Octivo LinkedIn community.

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Lenny is the founder and creator of Octivo.io a new age learning agency. He also is co-building a modern LMS system through his new platform TMRW.

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