When Sir Isaac Pitman invented distance learning in
1840, he could not have imagined that it would evolve into
something called e-learning. The e of electronic
had not been invented yet. Thomas Alva Edison came closer
when he predicted in 1922 that movies would replace textbooks
and perhaps teachers in the classroom.
Thomas Alva Edison predicted in 1922 that movies
would replace textbooks and perhaps teachers in
is e-learning? A straight-forward definition by Mark Rosenberg,
author of e-learning: "E-learning includes
the use of a variety of media and techniques for learning,
including text, sound, graphics, photography, animation,
video, email, discussion forums, chat rooms, virtual meetings
or tutorials, simulations and much more."
e-learning includes forms like desktop video conferencing
and distance learning via broadband transmission, the
most popular types are computer-based training, or CBT,
where students sit on a computer and use a CD-ROM, information
stored on a network, or the Internet.
all these cases, CBT tutorials are carefully prepared,
keeping learning standards in mind. This type of e-learning
is ideal for corporate training. Research firm International
Data Corporation believes that in the next three to five
years more than half of all corporate training is likely
to be delivered via technology. It is easy to see why
companies have taken to CBT in such a big way:
can learn at their own pace.
money and time.
is easy for supervisors to check whether learning has
are usually computer-literate and mature enough to learn
without the prompting that younger students are likely
is not just an exciting new way to learn - it''s big business.
The worldwide IT education and training market is estimated
to reach $28.6 billion by 2006, according to IDC. Over
the same period, the US corporate business skills training
market is estimated to reach $18.3 billion.
large proportion of these markets is expected to go to
e-learning. According to research firm Gartner, e-learning
is on the agenda for nearly every enterprise in the US.
IBM and Microsoft, for example, are even launching workplace-based
learning programmes that allow their employees to gain
does India fit into this paradigm? A recent IDC report
said the countries that will lead the e-learning industry
in the Asia/Pacific are Australia, Korea, China and Singapore.
India is not in the list. However, this may change, as
India is really a no-brainer when it comes to outsourcing
e-learning projects. With a highly educated workforce,
strong in English, India is a natural choice for e-learning
|"In India we run up against a
price point, because Indian companies rarely have
training budgets, and e-learning hasn''t been absorbed
into the Indian corporate culture." Maurice
Haeems, President and CEO, Mentorix
e-learning, language is in focus, which is why countries
like China will have a struggle catching up, because of
their lack of English literacy. Maurice Haeems, president
and CEO of e-learning firm Mentorix says, "India
has a huge talent pool of highly educated people, who
are extremely adaptable and learn quickly, mainly because
of the focus on education in India."
India e-learning has been rather low key, till now. Tata
Interactive Services is the most venerable company in
the field, with one decade, 500 projects and over 200
clients to its credit, including publishers such as McGraw-Hill
and Pearson, and leading companies such as American Airlines,
Barclays, British Petroleum, British Telecom, Citibank,
Deutsche Bank, Ford and Unilever.
|IDC believes that in the next three
to five years more than half of all corporate training
is likely to be delivered via technology.
education leader NIIT launched NetVarsity.com as early
as 1996, when the Internet was only beginning to grow
in India. In 2000, it launched NetVarsity.com globally.
In the same year, the group hived off a fully owned subsidiary,
NIIT Online Learning Ltd. NIIT Online mainly focuses on
several new players have entered the market, the foremost
among them being Mentorix, which has expanded to a 500-person
operation within a matter of 18 months. Mentorix has more
than 100 clients worldwide, has completed over 200 projects
and has over 1,100 person-years of expertise.
has recruited 300 people in the course of the past few
months and is in the process of recruiting 200 more, taking
the lead in making e-learning a new career option for
total market in India employs more than 10,000 persons,
according to industry insiders, with NIIT, Tata Interactive
and Mentorix having the lion''s share. Several smaller
organisations throng the market with smaller numbers.
Insiders say the industry could easily go to 3,00,000
employees in ten years.
|Analysts see bright figures
In India, the e-learning market is estimated to
grow at 20 per cent compound annual growth rate
(CAGR), and to be worth approximately $ 4 million
The worldwide IT education and training market
will reach $28.6 billion by 2006, increasing at
a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.1 per
cent. - IDC
Over the same period, the US corporate business
skills training market will grow at 13.3 per cent
CAGR, reaching $18.3 billion by 2006. - IDC
Twenty four per cent of US organisations are now
using e-learning to train their employees - E-marketer
In the United States, the number of corporate e-learning
clients is 9.5-10 million and growing. - Washington
By 2005, over 27 per cent of business skills training
in Europe will be via e-learning, which would entail
a CAGR of 108.2 per cent for the European market
alone. - IDC
Corporate e-learning content in the US will grow
at nearly 37 per cent CAGR for the period 2001-2006.
The Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) corporate e-learning
market is expected to be worth almost $233 million
by 2005, growing at a CAGR of 25 per cent. - IDC
main categories of options are: writers, who are employed
using a copy test, and need literary and writing skills;
designers, who have to be Commerce Arts graduates with
knowledge of graphic applications like Photoshop; and
integrators, who are programmers with knowledge of HTML,
Flash, and 3D Max. The pay is slightly above industry
standards. Experience in instructional design is not asked
for right now, since it is still a new field.
process of making CBT courses involves three groups working
together. Writers do the detailed script, which is called
a storyboard. The visualiser decides on the look-and-feel
of the whole course. Graphic designers, illustrators and
animators bring the visualiser''s concept to life. Integrators
merge the graphic elements with the content to make the
Haeems of Mentorix says, "The average courseware
package takes 6-8 weeks to produce, with 25-30 people
involved. But more complicated packages can take longer,
even up to one year, and employing far more people."
e-learning firms, including Tata Interactive, NIIT and
Mentorix, follow the e-learning standards set by the Advanced
Distributive Learning Initiative, an initiative started
by the United States'' Department of Defense to develop
e-learning standardisation. The ADL initiative defined
high-level requirements for learning content, such as
content reusability, accessibility, durability and inter-operability
to leverage existing practices.
January 2000, ADL released the first version of the Shareable
Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), which has become
a standard of reference for all e-learning content.
|In e-learning, language is in focus,
which is why countries like China will have a struggle
catching up, because of their lack of English literacy.
of the market for e-learning is in the United States,
which heads the field in corporate training. In India,
the e-learning companies face an uphill task, since the
same paradigm does not apply here. Indian employees come
in for training in their off-hours without being paid
overtime, unlike Americans. Training itself is not looked
at very seriously, and most learning is on the job,
which makes it extremely non-standard, with some employees
managing to learn and others lagging behind.
to Mr Haeems of Mentorix, "In India we run up against
a price point, because Indian companies rarely have training
budgets, and e-learning hasn''t been absorbed into the
Indian corporate culture."
this, in India the e-learning market is estimated to grow
at 20 per cent CAGR, and to be worth $ 4 million, according
indicator of its size is likely to come from the success
of "Vidyakash-2002", global conference on online
learning to be hosted by National Centre for Software
Technology from December 15-17 at Mumbai.
e-learning market is wide open now, allowing smaller teams
to compete, but with the ripening of the market, size
could become an issue. A more mature market could see
a shakeout, with smaller players being bought over by
the bigger players, for their readymade talent and client
|Mentorix has recruited 300 people in
the course of the past few months and is in the process
of recruiting 200 more, taking the lead in making
e-learning a new career option for educated Indians.
component of e-learning is application development for
schools and corporates, which involves hard-core programming.
is producing a learning management system called Mercury,
an off-the-shelf product for schools, which keeps track
of students progress and even their leaves and payment
the sheer size of the market worldwide and India becoming
such a popular destination for outsourcing, e-learning
could well become a huge industry in India soon.