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Survey: What will the training industry look like post-COVID?

In March, we surveyed training providers to get an understanding of how COVID affected their business and how they were adapting. Six months on we surveyed our training providers again to see what’s changed, and how they’re building out their long-term strategies for delivering training in a post-COVID world. 

It’s been a tumultuous year for the training industry due to the restrictions of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, training providers scrambled to cancel face-to-face courses and provide credits or refunds to customers, with no surety on when they would be able to reschedule. The savviest ones pivoted quickly – modifying existing courses to remote live online webinar, on-demand, eLearning and blended delivery formats.

Now, many training providers are pausing to reflect and re-set – mapping out their business plan for the future. 

eLearning is on the rise

Unsurprisingly, we’re continuing to see a rise in eLearning to deliver training courses. 

Only 21% of respondents in our March survey had a solid eLearning offering as part of their training programme at the time, which has jumped up to 55% in September. The fact this number has almost tripled in such a short space of time can be attributed to the pivot to remote learning that was required for training providers to continue to operate through COVID lockdown restrictions. 

The results of our March survey also showed that 62% of our respondents in the training industry were looking to start delivering self-paced eLearning within the next 12 months. Our results show that the majority of these training providers implemented an eLearning offering within just 6 months – making the move much quicker than they had initially intended. Comparatively, our September survey shows that 75% of respondents would offer eLearning within the next 12 months – up 13%.

Developing eLearning content doesn’t require complex systems and tools

We delved a little deeper into eLearning in this survey, and we asked training providers how they’re authoring their eLearning content.

79% of respondents say they create their own eLearning content in-house, with the remainder saying they either pay someone else to develop it for them, or they buy existing content from the likes of Go1 or elsewhere. 

We also asked our training providers what types of eLearning content they are/are planning on offering. While the option of Interactive courses was the highest scoring option (92% of all respondents), there was still strong demand for webinar recordings (69%), Video/Audio files (87%), and downloadable documents (68%).

In terms of authoring, while Articulate Storyline and Rise360 were the most popular authoring tools, they only made up 27.4% of responses – with the majority of training providers opting to create content inside their existing LMS, or without an authoring tool. 

These results indicated that the majority of eLearning content doesn’t require a complex authoring tool – i.e. simple files that can be uploaded.

This is reflective of Parallel Project Training’s investment in eLearning – they adapted existing materials such as their printed study guide into eLearning modules and quizzes in Moodle, and created podcasts and on-demand videos to support different learning styles.

True’s Learning and Communications Systems Coordinator Audrie Jurgens True recently told us how they chose to invest in training for internal subject matter experts and subscribed to Articulate 360 to utilize Rise and Storyline. With new skills in eLearning development, True’s educators have been adapting face-to-face courses to blended learning courses featuring Learnbook online, anytime content – sometimes exclusively and sometimes in combination with face-to-face workshops or live webinars via Zoom.

“Articulate360, and Rise360 with its intuitive interface and beautiful, responsive finished product has allowed our educators to take on most of the content development with ease”, Audrie says.

One Arlo customer, IRI Australia, traditionally offered face-to-face courses but was one of the savvy ones who worked quickly to move online when the COVID pandemic hit back in March. They looked at their existing course materials to see what they could quickly and easily repurpose for online delivery – for example, any existing videos or self-based materials. As a result, they saw a record number of registrations for self-paced eLearning courses. 

“We’ve never had as many requests for self-paced courses. As we return to normality, it will be interesting to assess whether or not virtual delivery holds interest past COVID-19, when face-to-face will resume.” Says IRI Solutions Training Manager Margarita Sanding. 

Blended learning is the future of the training industry

A whopping 87.7% of respondents in our September survey indicated that they are/or are intending to commercialize eLearning content as a blended learning package (combining eLearning content with face to face or webinar deliver in the same course), compared to just 41% in March, where the majority of respondents were selling eLearning courses individually as standalone modules.

Audrie says blended learning has been incredibly successful for True, as not only has it increased their revenue, but it has made their training courses accessible, affordable, flexible and within reach of everyone. It has enabled True to offer a richer, more immersive, and engaging training experience without requiring more staff, resources, or funding. 

However, subscription services (a service which allows paying subscribers to access self-paced content for a set time period), is a less popular option for delivering blended learning at this point in time – with only 25% of our surveyed customers saying they would consider subscription to commercialize eLearning content over the coming 12 months.

Arlo CEO John Mitchell is surprised by this result. He says: “an eLearning subscription model is the way of the future for training providers, particularly for continued professional development such as that of an accountant.”

He urges training providers to re-think subscription-based eLearning as part of their long-term strategy.

“Ultimately, blended learning is the best way for training providers to scale their course offering and grow their business, but the subscription model is something to explore in future. By locking customers into a subscription you create long-term recurring revenue for your training business over a sustained period of time. If you’re serious about future-proofing your training business, that’s how you do it.” John says.

If you’re new to blended learning, check out our Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning. You’ll find everything you need to launch blended learning for your training organization in this comprehensive guide.