It’s a new year and I think it’s time to revive the Wednesday Report of the Week (ROTW)! I’ve made a public Google Notebook page for those of you who are interested in the reports I feature here:

I’ll begin the new year with an Ambient Insight report that came out last November and was featured in T.H.E. Journal. The market analysis forecasts that K-12 education will have the highest demand for self-paced electronic learning products over the next five years. Ambient Insight studied six major types of self-paced e-learning products:

  • IT packaged content
  • Non-IT packaged content
  • Custom content and technology services
  • Learning platform hosting services
  • Software tools
  • Installed learning platform technology

Sam Adkins, the company’s chief research officer, was kind enough to explain to me the different categories. Here’s what he said:

  • Packaged content is commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) content sold as a
    self-contained course (think "shrink-wrapped" as an analogy) – it has a retail
    price per package. It is "built once, sold many times."
  • IT-based packaged content is courseware designed to teach software skills.
    We break it out for suppliers because in the early days virtually all of
    elearning content was IT courseware. Those days are long gone but suppliers
    still want to see the forecasts.
  • Custom content is a "one-off" created for customers. Suppliers charge a
    service fee (usually time and materials) for it. There are many technology
    services as well.
  • Hosting services are platforms provided to customers as a Web-based service
    and the customer does not own the software, per se. They pay for it, usually
    with a subscription fee. Lately people are referring to this as "Web 2.0"
    although there is no consensus on the meaning of that term.
  • Installed technology is the opposite of hosted technology and customers
    install it themselves.

It would be interesting to see which categories will see the biggest growth for K-12. I’m hoping it’s not ‘drill and kill’ software.


I can’t emphasize enough how helpful Mr. Adkins was. Despite his belief that his company’s research is "written exclusively for product suppliers and that very few practitioners or thought leaders gain much value from the data," he was gracious enough to have several e-mail exchanges with me until I understood the categories for this blog post. Thank you, Sam!