Market Trends

Global E-Learning Market in Steep Decline, Report Says

The worldwide self-paced e-learning market is declining at a precipitous rate, according to a recent report released by Ambient Insight Research, a Washington state-based market research firm.

According to the study, the global compound annual growth rate for self-paced e-learning products is clearly negative at -6.4 percent over the next five years. Revenues are expected to drop dramatically to $33.4 billion by 2021, a decline of $13.5 billion over the forecast period.

Revenues for self-paced e-learning in 2016 are heavily concentrated in two countries — the United States and China. The growth rate in the U.S. is at -5.3 percent, representing a $4.9 billion drop in revenues by 2021, while in China, the rate is at -8.8 percent, representing a $1.9 billion drop by 2021. The e-learning market in China has deteriorated rapidly in just the last 18 months, the report said.

Revenues for self-paced e-learning will drop $6.8 billion over the next five years in the U.S. and China combined, according to the report. The inhibitors are different in each country, with commoditization and product substitution driving the U.S. sharply downward, and a meltdown of the highly fragmented e-learning market in China exacerbated by the aggressive entry of Internet giants into the market, the study said.

The 69-page report, titled “Ambient Insight’s 2016-2021 Worldwide Self-Paced eLearning Market” is available for free on Ambient Insight’s website. The author is Sam S. Adkins, chief researcher for Ambien Insight. He writes that he examined financial reports from hundreds of domestic and international education technology companies, publicly traded suppliers and educational publishers.

Here are some other findings in the report:

  • Of the 122 countries tracked by Ambient Insight, 15 have growth rates for self-paced e-learning over 15 percent during the next five years. These countries are heavily concentrated in Asia and Africa, with the two outliers being Slovakia and Lithuania.
  • Eleven of the top 15 growth countries will generate less than $20 million by 2021. Of the top 15, Slovakia and Lithuania are anticipated to generate the highest revenues for self-paced products by 2021, at $55.4 million and $36.5 million, respectively.
  • The growth rates are negative in every region except Africa, where the growth is flat at 0.9 percent. The steepest declines are in Asia and Latin America at -11.7 percent and -10.8 percent, respectively. The economic meltdowns in Brazil and Venezuela are major inhibitors in Latin America.
  • There are 77 countries with flat-to-negative growth rates. The countries with the lowest growth rates are Yemen (-18.7 percent), Brazil (-19.8 percent), Qatar (-23.5 percent) and Venezuela (-26.8 percent).

Self-paced e-learning products include online courses, managed education services, managed training, e-books and learning management systems, according to the report. The author does not consider mobile and game-based learning, which are growing, to be in the self-paced e-learning category.

The news on the self-paced e-learning industry is so bad, Ambient Insight will no longer publish commercial syndicated reports on the industry, the firm says on its website and in the report.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at rchang@1105media.com.

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