What EdTech Investments Teach Us About the eLearning Industry

edtech

As far as the education technology industry is concerned, there were a lot of years where it stayed on the backburner. While companies plowed their money into marketing or software, training was usually deemed sufficient with a few videos or a long-suffering module that hadn’t been updated in years.

Of course, we’re happy to say that times are changing and most organizations are recognizing the folly of their ways. We know that good training and adequate edTech spending can result in employees who are motivated, satisfied, and better educated and we’re glad that more and more companies are willing to invest in those benefits. In fact, the investment trends over the last two years can give a closer look into where edTech is headed and what trends are making the biggest impact in training. Here are some of the most interesting investment insights from the Metaari Advanced Learning Technology Research’s latest investment whitepaper:

1. Simulation-Based Training Received a Huge Boost

Companies invested in a whopping $1.7 billion in simulation-based training in 2016. Compare that to the previous year of just $216 million. What’s with the paradigm shift? We suspect it has something to do with the new mentality of many larger organizations. These legacy titans recognize that their size alone makes it difficult to make fast decisions and pivot quickly, like startups and new companies. Teaching employees that it’s OK to try new things and fail is an uphill battle, especially after decades of a different mindset. Simulations are the best way to apply low-risk conditions to high-risk decisions.

In simulations, learners can practice skills—think reading facial expressions, making leadership decisions, or even understanding codes of conduct—in a safe space before they’re set loose in a corporate setting. What’s more, actually experiencing the conditions for themselves result in learners that are more engaged than just reading about situations on a computer screen.

2. Organizations Love Game-Based Training

Investment in training with game-like aspects more than quadrupled over the course of a single year to $171 million, up from $35 million just two short years prior. This increase in spending is likely due to the proven effect gamification can have on training and learner engagement. Think it’s just a trend? You probably have some type of game-based learning app on your phone right now. Whether you’re trying to learn a new language, sharpen your spelling, or just keep your mind pliable with learning games, gamification is a sneaky way to get learners to actually forget that they’re training.

Don’t dismiss gamification as child’s play, since combining enjoyment with new information can actually increase engagement and convert information from working to long-term memory. Game-like elements can also encourage learners to take part after working hours, which means training autonomously and during spare time. It’s a huge win for those investing in games.

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3. Courseware is Out; Mobile is In

Not all areas of edTech saw a boost in investment in 2016. Older legacy programs saw a decline in spending in the face of new technologies and a better understanding of the neurology behind Disney learning. Courseware, for instance, saw a 6.4 percent decline between 2015 and 2016, suggesting that rigid user experience and software-specific topics are on their way out. At the same time, live online classes also declined by 5.3 percent, suggesting that they are no longer convenient for a global learning experience—differing time zones and clashing schedules make it difficult for everyone to log in simultaneously.

Of course, while some of the older vestiges of the eLearning industry are on their way out, new technologies are eagerly stepping up to fill those spaces. Mobile learning saw a 12 percent increase as organizations realize that learners are more interested in taking their references and learning experiences to go and prefer self-paced training. A smaller screen size means a completely different learning experience and one that learners have overwhelmingly proven they prefer.

The increase in edTech investment over the course of just one year is extremely encouraging to companies like ELM. As one of the original industry disruptors, we’re glad to see that more companies are taking pride in their training and seeing the importance of investing in great learning experiences. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2017!