In our most recent publication “A review of the e-learning markets in the UK, EU and China” we highlighted the significance of the UK Governments department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) response to the FELTAG recommendations.

The Further Education Learning Technology Action Group to give it the full name has certainly created some action from the UK government that must be warmly welcomed by the e-learning and learning technologies industries.

The BIS response is very significant indeed in adapting the Individual Learner Record to include on-line learning provision and mandating that a minimum mix of 10% of on-line learning is required rolling out from September 2014.

10% on-line is just the beginning

It is worth remembering that 10% is just the starting point and it is anticipated that the e-learning mix or dare we say it blend will grow and become the norm rather than the exception.

While much attention is given to Colleges, who have been early adopters of e-learning from the National Learning Network days it is fair to say that progress more recently of e-learning in colleges has been patchy and fragmented. The BIS response recognises this fragmentation across providers and will be using the data gathered through the Individual Learner Record to take a temperature check of providers.

For the several thousand private sector training organisations listed on the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) ROTO (Register of Training Organisations) the picture is less clear.

The ROTOs are made up of large and small training organisations and some very large companies such as BAE for example who have contracts with the SFA.

Learning Light studies the overall e-learning market in the UK closely and we do not see a large number of training organisations on the ROTO (with the notable exception of ICT training) that have developed the requisite skills and infrastructure to meet the FELTAG challenge.

The growing role of the employer

Many companies in the UK are or will be given greater and greater responsibility for setting out their own skills provision. The UK CES has been developing a series of Employer Ownership of Skills Pilots whereas the title suggests the employer comes to play a much greater role in skills development as we move from a Training Industry/FE push model to an Employer led pull model.

Group Training Associations…new kids on the block

We anticipate the emergence of Group Training Associations (GTAs) as a result of this development. Within the Care sector, initial discussions between providers and employers are taking place but the potential make-up of these associations is still emerging.

So how does this look across the skills eco-system:   

As these reforms to the skills sector roll through, driven by the FELTAG response and the very sensible idea of putting more emphasis on employers to meet their own skills needs with a pull model, what is the likely impact upon the e-learning and learning technologies industry?

The requirement for e-learning content to e enable courses will be significant, and the requirement for Learning Management Systems will also be significant as these on-line platforms are required to deliver track and record e-learning.

We also anticipate a growing interest in Virtual classrooms and video capture tools. We expect a marked requirement for e-learning content creation tools to allow organisations to develop e-learning courses or to convert or customise existing materials for on-line delivery. A note of caution…videoing lectures might have  appeal, but its potential is limited and it must be used with care as an e-learning genre.

For colleges:         

Many Colleges of Further Education have talented e-learning development teams and tutors who have made great strides in moving provision on line, but the challenge to these organisations after a round of budget cuts must now be significant.

Many colleges have Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environments, Blackboard and Moodle are well represented in this market. There will be a requirement to update LMS’s to allow for the change in the learning delivery model. In our observations we detect a series of legacy LMS issues with many FE College platforms being overly focused on the M than the L.

Colleges will have to give serious consideration to the legacy LMS issue. It may be that the challenges of delivering in this new skills eco-system requires next generation LMS……something we will return to in a future blog.

However we feel the greatest need will be for e-learning content that can be part of the blend for delivery on-line aligned to curriculum.

For Training Organisations:

For the ROTO registered training organisations the situation is less clear, but we do know for many this is a clean start without the potentially expensive legacy issues Colleges could face. We therefore conclude that for many training organisations making the right choice in developing their e-learning proposition if they are to stay in the market will be crucial.

For employers

We expect employers will be offered a number of choices with Colleges and training providers offering managed services, with Group Training Associations being formed locally and possibly nationally or of course the possibility of going alone. Turning a complex picture into a structured and accessible landscape of provision will be essential to meet the new demands of this employer led pull model.

Going alone was once the preserve of large organisations as both e-learning content and delivery solutions (Learning Management Systems) were once expensive. Today Learning Management Systems are affordable and can be used in some cases on-demand – pay as you use.

e-learning content is more available off the shelf than ever before giving organisations the ability to select videos or interactive courses on generic topics (say office administration or selling skills for example) quickly and cost effectively. In addition with simple effective software tools it is becoming easier to build customised e-learning courses as well.

It is important to note that larger numbers of guaranteed learners can counter the expense of bespoke e-learning courses so that the value for money equation becomes very favourable indeed.

Learning Light are well positioned to advise colleges, ROTOs, employers and groups of employers considering setting up GTAs…..and here is why.

Declaration of Experience

Learning Light is a training provider and approved centre delivering Level 2 NVQs as well as Level 3 and 4 qualifications into the workplace, and yes we use e-learning materials and an LMS.

In addition we manage a large range of e-learning content for our own activities and to distribute to other training providers .

We have e-learning courses on a wide range of topics including business improvement, business skills, selling skills, office skills finance, engineering and manufacturing, health and social care and much more.

Learning Light understands the Learning Management Systems market in that we have helped several organisation source and select the best solution and more importantly we really do understand how to use an LMS effectively to deliver funded qualifications.

So, if you are a College or Training provider or company wondering where to begin, get in touch and we will be delighted to share our experience, offer advice and maybe provide you with a cost effective solution that will take you beyond 10% e-learning and enhance learner satisfaction as well.

You can read our recommendations about the best LMS for your organisation here.