Clive Shepherd has highlighted the e-learning centre report on the market for e-learning in UK and Europe. A free summary is available here. As Clive’s post points out, the UK market is expected to grow by 4.76% to £472m in 2010 – slower growth but a bigger market than France or Germany. As a sort of comparison, Datamonitor recently identified the UK market for consulting services at averaging 7% between 2010 – 2014 and growth in the UK economy as a whole being around the 2% mark. Yet a recent report from Boston Consulting Group on e-commerce in the UK is interesting in that it finds that:

The U.K. Internet economy contributed £100 billion in 2009, representing 7.2 percent of U.K. GDP—more than construction, transport, or utilities.

and also predicts a 10% growth rate per annum up to 10% of GDP by 2015. So how well is the e-learning industry really doing?

A few other things to note on the report summary is the positioning of different facets of e-learning in relation to one another. In particular, that web 2.0/ e-learning 2.0 is placed (I think – but tell me if I’m wrong) on the broadcasting side of a continuum with learning at the other end while VLEs are placed more towards the learning end. This typology seems strange given the interactional nature at the heart of web 2.0 while VLEs, in my experience, tend to be used as course management systems, file repositories, etc. This highlights the difficulty of defining the e-learning industry. What software or SaaS should be included and, more importantly, excluded. Should Twitter or WordPress or Drupal be included on the basis that a lot of learning occurs through these tools that were not formally designed for learning purposes. While analysing the size of the formal e-learning sector as represented by VLEs, course management systems and formal learning content creators is a useful exercise, this is a very different proposition from mapping the economy of e-learning activities as a whole, eg, across the value chain. So it is possible, and possibly desirable, to see the “industry” as defined by formal providers declining while the scale and scope of e-learning activities continues to grow.

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