Educational technology (EdTech) refers to the management of teaching and learning materials and processes using technological tools and applications. The terms online learning, virtual learning, and e-learning are often interchangeable with EdTech.
Reliance on EdTech for enterprise-level workforce training is increasing, as organizations seek to onboard new employees, retain and motivate staff, and bridge skill gaps with limited learning and development (L&D) resources. Many specialized jobs also require continuing education and accreditation which can be supported by EdTech tools and services.
The modern workforce’s drive to learn new skills and take on new challenges have also influenced the adoption of EdTech with e-learning now representing 21%-40% of the median organization’s learning portfolio in contrast with 1%-20% five years ago.
Cornerstone OnDemand reported that 50% of HR departments at client organizations moved their instructor-led, in-person training to a virtual, online format. One client, a large global e-tailer who shifted to a 100% remote workforce, is transitioning from instructor-led training to online training with content from social platforms and Cornerstone.
The number of academic and professional learners using BenchPrep reached nearly seven million in December 2020, with new customers growing 3x year-over-year (YoY), and the number of organizations using the platform growing by 55% YoY.
During March 2020 and April 2020, Skillsoft witnessed substantial growth in course completions across several topics including “Developing Emotional Intelligence”, “Exploring Virtual Collaboration”, and “Facing Virtual Team Challenges”.
Between March 2020 and December 2020, Coursera reported more than 69 million enrollments, an increase of about 430% YoY. The two most popular courses were “The Science of Well-Being” (more than 2.5 million enrollments), and “Covid-19 Contact Tracing” (more than one million enrollments).
Cornerstone OnDemand reported that HR teams at client organizations had assigned and created more than 1.8 million new courses, of which 11,000 are Covid-19-related, as of April 2020. Further, more than 56,000 Covid-19-related courses had been taken through Cornerstone Cares, a free public learning resource launched in March 2020.
Udemy for Business reported an increase in mental health skills course consumption in industries with essential workers such as the government, nonprofit, and healthcare sectors.
Corporate educational technology (EdTech) products and services can be broadly categorized as content-focused, service-focused or providing a delivery solution.
The EdTech corporate learning market is dominated by incumbents specializing in content, services, delivery solutions or a combination of these factors. Disruptive EdTech startups are mostly early- and growth-stage firms that have attracted investor attention on the strength of high-quality or unique content, efficient delivery methods, affordability or a combination of these factors.
Disruptors in the educational technology (EdTech) corporate learning market cater to the learning needs and styles of the modern workforce using emerging and evolving technology.
Content providers such as Coursera, Degreed and Guild Education focus on offering a wide breadth of high-quality content by partnering with universities to offer their programs to individual learners and corporate workforces. Other startups such as Strivr, TRANSFR, Mursion, and Talespin offer simulation-based learning using virtual reality (VR) technologies. Another approach provides platforms that connect learners with instructors, either on a large scale such as Udemy, or on a one-on-one basis such as Torch Leadership Labs, CoachHub, and Multiverse. Udemy and Coursera are leaders in the corporate client content space with 7,000 and 2,300 organizations using their platforms, respectively.
Delivery solutions providers seek to disrupt the traditional learning management system (LMS) market by hosting user-generated content, and by offering new personalized, gamified, and micro-learning models. Leaders in the delivery solutions space include Blackboard, Cornerstone OnDemand, TalentLMS, Articulate, and Cypher Learning.
Content providers have attracted more funding than service and delivery solution providers as a result of pandemic-driven demand for workforce upskilling and reskilling solutions.
Brighton, UK-based Learning Technologies Group PLC (LTG) serves the corporate digital learning and talent management market through several educational technology (EdTech) businesses. Since its formation in 2013, the company has expanded through several acquisitions and product launches with over 4,000 customers as of April 2020. The US accounts for about 70% of the group’s business while the UK and Europe account for most of the rest.
LTG’s content and services division includes its LEO Learning content, media, tools, and platform provider, the LEO GRC (formerly Eukleia) provider of governance, risk management, and compliance training solutions, and PRELOADED, a games studio.
The company’s software and platforms division accounts for about 70% of LTG’s revenue. This division includes PeopleFluent, a US-based provider of cloud-based integrated recruiting, talent management, and compensation management solutions (acquired in 2018); Gomo, a multi-device authoring tool; Rustici Software, a provider of e-learning standards conformance solutions (acquired in 2016); Watershed, a learning record store (acquired in 2018); Affirmity, a supplier of workforce compliance and diversity solutions (launched in 2018); VectorVMS, a vendor management solution; Breezy HR, a recruiting platform (acquired in 2019); Instilled, a learning experience platform (launched in 2019); and Open LMS, a large commercial Moodle provider (acquired from Blackboard in March 2020).
LTG’s PeopleFluent business was expanded through the acquisition of Reflektive, provider of an engagement and analytics platform (January 2021), and Bridge, a corporate LMS for mid-enterprise organisations, from Instructure Inc. (February 2021) The acquisition complements PeopleFluent, which serves the large enterprise market, and BreezyHR, which serves the small and medium-sized business market. In March 2021, Visier, a provider of workforce analytics and planning applications, made its analytics available on PeopleFluent, with a full launch out of beta testing scheduled for later in 2021. The company enhanced Bridge’s data interpretation capabilities in May 2021 with the introduction of Bridge Analytics to help organizations measure the impact of their employee learning and performance programs.
Meanwhile, LTG expanded Affirmity's geographic reach and its online training and diversity consulting capabilities with the acquisition of PDT Global, a diversity and inclusion training and consultancy firm, in February 2021.
LTG has strengthened its Open LMS business through the acquisition of Australian firm eCreators, and eThink Education, a US-based provider of e-learning solutions that support the Moodle and Totara learning management systems (LMS), in 2020. In February 2021, Open LMS announced plans to release its Moodle modules and enhancements in line with its commitment to be fully open source by the end of 2021. The business will also increase its investment in developing learning management system (LMS) features and code for the e-learning market. Additionally, the business is making its Learnbook LMS open source and rebranding it “Open LMS Work.” In May 2021, Open LMS partnered with K16 Solutions, a provider of LMS course migration, course design, and course archiving services, to make its own LMS migration and onboarding process for new clients easier. In August 2021, Open LMS announced a merger of its Elearn magazine with LMSPulse, a news source for the elearning community, which reflects an increased commitment to provide open source content to the elearning community. Further, Rustici Software’s position in the e-learning standards market was bolstered with the acquisition of US-based JCA Solutions, a provider of products and services supporting e-learning standards, in 2020. In August 2021, Open LMS partnered with Mediamaisteri Oy, a Moodle-based EdTech services provider, to expand into the Finnish and Nordic markets.
In July 2021, LTG acquired GP Strategies Corporation, an NYSE-listed workforce transformation solutions provider, which will become a division of LTG and be delisted from the NYSE. The acquisition allows LTG to deliver enhanced training, consulting, and business improvement services tailored to clients while expanding GP Strategies’ product offering and footprint. The company raised GBP 85 million (USD 118 million) in a share placing to part-fund the acquisition.
Content development tool:
Leading content providers such as Skillsoft, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight maintain extensive reach by catering to both individual learners and corporate clients with a mix of freemium and subscription-based business models. That reach is extended through partnerships with firms in the service and delivery solutions space.
Many of these companies also operate across academic institutions as well as business organizations. Kaplan’s (a business of Graham Holdings) higher education programs, professional training, certifications, test preparation, and student support services are used by academic institutions and businesses, while Pearson’s solutions span PreK-12 education, higher education, and industry and professional education.
Distributors of learning management systems include SAP, Adobe, and Microsoft. These companies have grown their portfolios by expanding—often by way of acquisition—into content and support services such as authoring and communication, as well as human resource functions like recruitment, compensation, and performance evaluation.
Founded in 1998, Skillsoft provides a suite of business learning and development solutions. Its portfolio includes three systems: Skillsoft learning content, the Percipio intelligent learning experience platform, and the SumTotal suite for talent development.
Skillsoft's cloud-based corporate learning content includes courses, videos, books, and other resources on leadership development, business skills, digital transformation, technology and development, and compliance. The Percipio platform helps to accelerate learning through an engaging, user experience-based interface. The SumTotal suite supports the entire employee lifecycle with technology focused on talent acquisition, learning management, and talent management. As of October 2020, the company had more than 45 million users across its platforms, including 70% of Fortune 1000 companies.
In June 2020, the company voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and in August announced that it had emerged from bankruptcy after reducing its debt load. In October 2020, Churchill Capital Corp agreed to merge with Skillsoft. The combined entity then acquired Global Knowledge Training LLC, an IT and professional skills company. The new entity is called Skillsoft and commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in June 2021.
In February 2021, Skillsoft partnered with Accredible, a digital credentialing platform, to issue badges to users of its Percipio intelligent learning experience platform, and to all customers accessing Skillsoft content through an integration with a learning management system or learning experience platform. In June 2021, the company acquired Pluma Inc., a digital professional development and coaching platform. The acquisition marks Skillsoft’s foray into individualized coaching. The company will integrate Pluma into its Percipio platform, deepening its leadership development portfolio. Skillsoft users will gain access to Pluma’s coaches, while Pluma customers will gain access to Skillsoft’s blended learning model and content.
In June 2021, the company appointed Sarah Hilty as its chief legal officer and appointed Gary W. Ferrera as CFO in August 2021.
In September 2021, Skillsoft released its quarterly earnings report for Q2 FY 2022 ending July 31, 2021 which reported adjusted revenue of USD 176 million (an increase of 5% YoY), and a net loss of USD 18 million. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was USD 43 million (up 2% YoY) with a total bookings growth of 18%. The company also refinanced its long-term debt, reducing annual cash interest expense by around USD 25 million, and updated its outlook for FY2022 adjusted revenue to USD 670–690 million.