Martin Baker, Managing Director of leadership and management online learning specialists LMMatters, says that eLearning providers need to focus on providing 'more for less' in the current economic climate.
Commenting on the findings of the latest eLearning industry report from Learning Light - which predicts an almost 5% growth in the UK market in the next year - he said that eLearning providers need to think really creatively about what they are offering.
"If you look at the report findings, it's a real 'yes but, no but' situation - yes, the eLearning industry is predicted to grow - which is great news - but just not at such a fast pace. So there is no room for complacency. Against the backdrop of the recession, the challenge for all eLearning providers is to provide more for less. That doesn't have to mean more software or hardware - think 'outside of the box': knowledge, experience and support, for example, all have value," he said.
In terms of technology, the report predicts greater use of open source technologies, mobile and smart devices, e-books, Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS).
Moodle expert Ian Ross, LMMatters' Learning Technology Manager, says that he has certainly noticed more clients using Open Source, and Moodle in particular.
"Open source is making a real impact in the public sector with many universities, schools and colleges moving their LMS to an open source one. They don't see the point in being tied to a costly bespoke platform supported by one supplier.
"I am not surprised that as an industry we are still growing but at a reduced rate," Ian added. "If the UK is more established in eLearning technologies than its European counterparts then the rush to use eLearning as the saviour is going to be less dramatic. But we providers are still seeing growth. This is because we are experts at what we do.
"We can expand those open source tools for the L&D team; we can provide high quality specialist content; we have time to deal with support issues. We are in a very strong position to innovate before the L&D team can pick up the skills. We are very effective innovators with expertise on our side. We just need to make sure that when we come out the other side of this slow-down we have used our resources wisely and innovated on ideas that are likely to persevere."
Martin Baker says he hopes to see greater collaboration amongst the eLearning industry after attending the launch of the report at the European eLearning Summit in Sheffield. The Summit brought together Europe's top eLearning strategists, developers and providers. A key point to come from the Summit was the need to raise the profile of eLearning outside of the Learning and Development industry, in a bid to encourage new talent to join the ranks.
A brief summary of the report 'The UK e-learning market 2010' is available for download from http://www.e-learningcentre.co.uk/