E-learning is the process of teaching and learning using electronic media, generally distributed over a network. For a thorough coverage of e-learning, see Anderson and Elloumi (2004). The market for e-learning is the market for the provision, delivery and administration of learning services through the use of new media and network technologies. Following the success of e-commerce, e-learning provides an effective pathway to bring education and training beyond national borders. With the deployment of technology, e-learning can make education and training accessible to even more people and more places around the world. E-learning also is a large information industry that has shown continuous growth over the past few years and is now a key e-commerce-based market. The e-learning industry has gone through many of the development cycles as other high-tech industries, and suffered from the dot-com boom and bust of 2000. It has now entered a period of steady growth, and the future bodes well for its development as a key element in the support and delivery of education and training.
Learning normally takes pace in a stakeholder-rich environment, with the learner interacting with the organization, the training/education provider, the payment agent, fellow learners and any awarding body. The end goal of a learner is acquisition and/or certification of a competence or knowledge and understanding of a subject. In order to achieve this goal, the learner engages in the consumption of services and educational content via infrastructural tools. These relationships are shown in Figure 1 (Hämäläinen, Whinston, & Vishik, 1996).
Attributes of the learning industry
E-learning is one of the fastest-growing, knowledge-based industries on both sides of the Atlantic and is the single most important transforming influence on education and corporate training and development across the globe (Sloman, 2001). However, it has not grown as expected. In the United States (U.S.), for example, the market for e-learning content and services was expected to double in size every year, reaching approximately $11.5 billion by 2003. The actual figure for 2003, according to Clark (2003), was only $5.2 billion.
Some of the reasons for this lack of growth are the general downturn in the high-tech markets as well as a slow uptake of e-learning, and resistance to e-learning from end users (Sloman, 2002). Even industry experts have recognized that the expectations of e-learning have been “unrealistic” and “overhyped” (Straub, 2002). Today, however, the e-learning industry is consolidating and growing in a more coherent manner.Top
Segmentation Of The E-Learning Market
The e-learning market can be segmented as follows:
The corporate e-learning market is concerned with major corporations and other private sector companies. By year-end 2005, according to Gartner Research (Lundy, Arevolo, & El-Gabri, 2003), e-learning will be the fourth most-used Internet application behind Web infrastructure, e-mail and search (with 0.7 probability).
International Data Corporation (IDC) admits that the worldwide corporate e-learning market is not growing at the rate once predicted (IDC 2003). However, the group still is confident that it is growing. IDC now predicts that market growth will be affected by the global economic slowdown, but that “normal market growth” (IDC 2003) will resume in the near future.
IDC predicts that the worldwide IT education and training market will reach $23.7 billion by 2006, and that worldwide corporate e-learning market to be $6.6 billion for 2002. IDC predict a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35% for e-learning through 2006 (IDC 2003).