Understanding the basics of e-learning industry


Global e-learning market, which was over a $90 billion market last year, is the fastest growing market in the education sector. Indian e-learning industry is set to reach $1.29 billion by FY 2018 with the e-learning content market expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.4% from FY 2014-FY 2018. Indian e-learning technology market is also growing YoY. And the number of internet users in India crossing 200 million is supporting it well.

E-learning refers to the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies in education. It replicates and supplements the process of classroom teaching in electronic form. In a classroom, knowledge is delivered by a teacher who manages (portions and sequence of content to be taught and assessments related to it) and delivers a prescribed curriculum to a set of students. Similarly, e-learning involves efficiently managing and distributing relevant content to the consumers/customers.

E-learning industry can be said to be broadly comprising four components: content, management system, delivery/distribution system and the consumers/customers. An efficient collaboration of all the three - content, management system, delivery/distribution system- leads to a satisfying and successful e-learning experience for a consumer.

For startups in e-learning space to flourish, for the adoption of e-learning in schools and by massive consumer base, for capital to be poured in this space and for the whole industry to mature, one must understand the hassles and problems of the industry. In this highly interwoven e-learning market, there is a necessity to understand the challenges and to collaborate across verticals. Startups working in e-learning content industry, however good they are, cannot provide value in the absence of highly efficient management and distribution systems. On the other hand, success of a management or distribution system is based on the premises of quality content.

There are some key factors affecting, and sometimes challenging, different components of e-learning industry which every startup must keep in consideration. Consumer behavior is affected by the cost of learning, flexibility offered while learning and also on the level of the qualification of customers. As e-learning serves a horizontal market, focus on a targeted set of consumers when it comes to content generation or collation is very important. Regulatory norms and curriculum (when catering to educational institutes), corporate and consumer requirements have to be met through e-learning content.

Management systems have to be efficient, should support simple and seamless integration of content from different sources and should be scalable to support the needs of growing demand. Distribution and delivery systems can take the form of immersive and game based learning, MOOCs, learning portals and hardware (tablet or phablet) based delivery. Inclusion of adaptive learning models is also on rise these days with startups trying to bring in this model to make e-learning very personalized.

Collaboration is definitely needed in any industry but its greater need for the e-learning industry stems from the very nature of the learning process. E-learning is a very comprehensive process of developing solutions for efficient knowledge delivery. Mastering each and every part of this process is a challenging problem. Focusing on one, be it e-learning content or e-learning technology, looks more feasible to startup with.

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