Student Engagement Platforms are of significant interest to me professionally, since I along with a talented team of people have been building one for several years now in response to teachers and students ongoing pilot feedback. So, what is a student engagement platform? Some call it a Personalised Learning System (PLS) or a Performance Support Platform (PSP). Still, CBINSIGHTS, in their Top 90 ED TECH 2017 industry report, calls it a Classroom Engagement System (CES). And yet others, such as Docebo, refer to this educational technology as a Global Learning Management System (GLMS) in their elearning market trends and forecast 2017-2021. I believe the best term is a Student Engagement Platform (SEP) and is best summarized through the Chinese Proverb:
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.
Engage me and I learn.”
The SEP is the hottest of hot in the emerging ED TECH space because it fundamentally bundles many of the other discrete ED TECH elements. For example, in ChalkUp, a leading SEP provider, “We want to transform the learning experience, so that students can be more engaged and enjoy learning. We believe the natural progression from a Learning Management System (LMS) is to a new Student Engagement Platform (SEP).” The product’s collaboration, assessment, and communication tools are built seamlessly into the user interface so all a teacher needs to do is set up an account and import student ID lists.
The promise of an SEP is that it provides real time learning and collaboration, that fosters real-time school-work collaboration, learning, and studying. In Adding Value: Online Student Engagement, researcher Donna Everett, Morehead State University, provides a compelling case for the SEP’s ability to deliver higher student engagement and performance. Everett concludes, “With the advent of online instruction and the increase in instructional technology tools (especially social media), the need to engage students with the content, with peers, and with instructors becomes even more crucial.” (November, 2015)
The elements of a 21st century SEP, which are driving market interest include: both synchronous and asynchronous communication, real time student assessment, access to digital libraries, collaboration forums, responsiveness to student learning style, MOOCs, and is mobile-ready. In addition, a truly emergent SEP, incorporates adaptive learning, personalised learning, augmented/virtual reality, game-based learning, and more. Therefore, my market research leads me to conclude that a fully developed SEP will displace the first generation Learning Management System (LMS) like BlackBoard and D2L.
I’d tag the SEP as the ultimate teaching resource and student learning platform in the 21st century. According to ChalkUp, “We want students to perform better, and therefore let teachers be more successful. Having fewer students that aren’t as bored in and out of class, means that they will be able to be better lifetime learners, get better grades, get into better colleges, etc.” And from another SEP provider, Wonderville.org, director programs, Margaret Glover-Campbell, shares, “The beauty of an engagement platform is it reduces the need for other disparate digital tools and resources. The Wonderville.org platform was built to help teachers teach and to engage students in learning and collaboration. Our content and tools and communities of sharing demonstrate that we really care about the student learning experience and supporting teachers.”
The market outlook is promising for the SEP segment. CBINSIGHTS notes two top performers, TopHat and nearpod, and cites investments of over US$87M in just these two companies. Docebo assesses the GLMS global market currently at US$3B annually, growing at 19-24% annually over the next 5 years to over US$5B. Combined within the LMS market are the elearning and cloud-based SAAS (software as a service) markets as LMS’s evolve to a SAAS based service, which Docebo projects will grow exponentially from $111B to over $250B, globally (based on combining the elearning and cloud-based SAAS markets). Finally, according to Docebo, the US education market in 2015 spent US$1.6T and is expected to surpass US$2.6T by 2020.
While LMS’s have been in market for well over a decade, this newer SEP market has great potential, but also challenges. The timelines and integration issues are significant and typically require 1 to 3 years to plan and implement in K-12, post-secondary or even corporate environments. However, the pricepoints of LMSs and evolving SEPs, fortunately, are priced to be scalable and manageable, typically an annual licence or sliding scale price based on teacher/student population.
No matter which way you look at it, the SEP (LMS/elearning (content)/cloud-based SAAS) space will be primed for strong growth and upside.
Sources for further insight:
Everett, Donna, Morehead State University, Adding Value: Online Student Engagement, 2015