I suppose it was a coincidence that on the same day, I would receive notification of one online learning report regarding K-12 online learning and another report about higher education online learning. Upon reading the article about higher education in Campus Technology and then the article about K-12 Online Learning in THE Journal, I learned that both articles referenced the same Ambient Insight Research report. (Then, I learned if I was an institution, I could purchase the report as part of an Organizational Site License for $4,825).
After reading both articles and the executive summary of the report, I learned that the report was reporting about “Self Paced E-Learning” products.
It is important to make the distinction between “self-paced eLearning” and “online learning”. The research is not conclusive on this, but most generally agree that self-paced eLearning products are computer generated curriculum where students learn material, take a test, and then move on to the next learning module. Basically, the computer content is the teacher. In contrast, effective online learning in K-12 and higher education has a teacher at the end of each online course. The teacher guides the learning and may also have students use “self paced e-learning content. I am not saying that one method is better or worse nor that students can not learn from self-paced eLearning products.
The Ambient Insight Research Report does share important information, but it does not really discuss the growth of “online learning” in K-12 or higher education. However, what this report does is “forecasts the revenues for self-paced eLearning products across seven regions: North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.” And it identifies the top buying countries. North America (US and Canada) will be the top buying region throughout the 2010-2015 forecast period and Asia will see the highest growth rate in the purchase of these products. In addition, as the graph below shows, India and China are predicted to be the top two growth rates by country.
Overall, reports such as this do show the increased investment of monies for self-paced eLearning products. However, this report highlights the revenues/purchases of these products across all sectors of the economy, not just education.
One other key finding of the report: “A country’s educational policy (and not their adoption of technology) is often the primary factor driving (or blocking) the adoption of Self-paced eLearning.” We know the same is true for teacher lead online learning as well.