Sramana Mitra: Can you give us an example of some of these additional technologies beyond Learning Management Systems that are coming into play in that context?
Ron Olsen: Some of it is technology-based and some of it is services-based. From a technology standpoint, it’s not just enough to have a Learning Management System, but the reporting and analytics are one of the big buzzwords over the last couple of years with respect to really getting a deeper understanding of what’s going on with your learners. In the corporate space for example, being able to report compliance and demonstrate success of delivering the learning has been critical. There’s a big push right now on the analytics side.
How can you take the data that’s being gathered within a learning management system about specific user activities? How often are they on the system? How much do they participate in discussion forums? What level of understanding do they have about what they’re talking about in those forums, and how to translate that and help educators really understand that true learning is happening, and not necessarily just simply check-a-box assignment?
Sramana Mitra: It’s more in the analytics side that you’re seeing additional requirements?
Ron Olsen: Definitely so. I would say that there has been a big focus in the last couple of years, and will continue to grow, on the improvement of the overall learner experience associated with getting content to our learners and if it’s being delivered in a way that’s actually meaningful.
Sramana Mitra: When you look at the analytics tools out there, which tools are good for the kinds of requests that you’re seeing from your client base? What are some vendors and tools that are worth double-clicking down on to see what they’re providing that is relevant in this context?
Ron Olsen: On the Moodle platform that we use with many of our clients, we had developed our own proprietary recording engine that expands out the functionality for Moodle. The product is Enterprise Learning Intelligence System (ELIS). We’re identifying that that system itself needs to be bolstered by additional recording and analytics.
We’re in the process of looking at the recording tools of Inteli-Board. Lambda Solutions also has a product called Analytika that they just released late last month. Then there’s a couple of other tools that focus more on the analytics side, but it’s still young in the process. Analytics, as it stands right now, is really more focused on the reporting side, and is just getting into the true analytics side.
Sramana Mitra: Besides analytics technologies, what other additional technologies are your clients asking for in the context of running online education offerings?
Ron Olsen: Technology-wise, I would say that there is a stronger push towards being able to deliver learning where the students are. Really, a mobile-first design approach to the learning delivery. Some of that maybe just responsive design on a web-based learning platform. Others really focus on what can be done to build targeted applications that are really mobile-based to deliver specific learning in the field.
In traditional education, if you’re talking about students and their ability to bring their own devices and being able to work on iPads and phones, that is delivery of content as it relates to the traditional education market. In terms of our corporate market, just-in-time education is one of the areas that is being pushed on a little bit more. This involves having real-time access to training on products and solutions that are necessary out in the field for the employees of companies that need to get an understanding of a particular solution that they may not have a deep understanding of.