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Do Catalogue eLearning Courses Provide ROI?

Written By Shalini Merugu

Do Catalogue eLearning Courses Provide ROI?

A typical approach taken by many organizations when launching eLearning for the first time is to buy a huge library of catalogue courses and send out a few standard mails to all employees, telling them about the availability of the courses and providing access details. And keep their fingers crossed, hoping for some decent ROI.

What are Catalogue Courses Anyway?

Typically these catalogue courses consist of a comprehensive collection of off-the-shelf eLearning courses spread out across the following areas: Technology/IT, Soft Skills, Environment and Safety, Legal & Workplace Compliance, and certification courses among others. The number of courses could be huge and targeted at varying levels of desired competence. Catalogue courses are ideal when it comes to training that doesn’t have to be adapted to different specific custom audiences, such as technical training on.NET technology, with varying levels being offered. In such cases, learners who are aware of the courses being offered, can register themselves and take the training. With certifications being offered, at least there is some incentive for employees to take these courses. Besides some of them help you prepare for formal certifications such as those offered by PMI or Microsoft. However, even then, many of these courses have no takers as there is no attempt at marketing or promoting them to employees.

Typical Employee Adoption

In the target group for whom the courses are intended, probably one employee in every tenactually accesses the courses to check it out for themselves, while the other nine simply ignore the mail and figure that if a course is important enough, they will be registered for it on the LMS by the training department and it would be made mandatory anyway. So they decide they will cross that bridge when they come to it. The few employees who do access the catalogue course library very soon find themselves swimming in a sea of information out there and get out before they drown – and this may happen despite categorization and some amount of knowledge management in the way courses and related resources are bunched together. Sounds familiar?

Typical Results

Unfortunately, a cookie cutter approach to implementing eLearning through catalogue courses alone doesn’t really work too well. Only the most determined and driven learner will be able to gain some benefit from this. And let’s face it; with competing demands on employees’ time, such employees are very rare. Your average employee will just decide it’s not worth spending time on it and get back to work. And your catalogue course library gathers dust for the next few years. For any Learning and Development professional, nothing is as frustrating as watching hard-earnedand hard-fought-for training dollars go down the drain.

Do you think organizations get their ROI through investing in catalogue courses? What has been your experience with launching catalogue courses? What do you think can be done to improve this ROI?

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  • Good morning,

    I like your article and would like to see your research results once you are done with this research project.

    Here is my 2 cents. The ROI for learning is much better for the student in a virtual type of online learning environment where they meet their instructor in person via webcam and microphone. This engages the student and if the student is also required to use the webcame and microphone it make the student accountable for their learning.

    For business, the ROI for profitability is definately in the catalog online courses and eTextbooks given the customer pays money each time they are enrolled in that course for a limited period of time and the eTextbook is also only available for that same time unless you pay more.

    Both the online course material and the eTextbook are comparable to the real material cost yet when the course is over, the material is not passed forward to the student. They don’t have anything physical to show for the course, except the knowledge that received by the student. The process is automated and plays the same exact course material for every student, robotic, limited in flexibility and not adapted for the many learning styles, very flat and boring because there are not any humans involved.

    Feesibility? Honestly, school boards and students do not like the catalog courses and will purchase the virtual type of courses because the catalog courses are boring and expensive to them. Also, the student learns more in the virtual world because it match the real world better.

    Thanks – Yvette

  • Thanks Yvette. Glad you liked the blog. Yes, virtual training with a live instructor definitely has its advantages. But again, this very dependence on instructors and their availability can become a challenge in large organizations with a globally dispersed workforce. Which is where self-paced courses can play a powerful role. You are right in pointing out some of the disadvantages of catalog courses. I believe that custom courses can do a lot to make the eLearning experience more engaging and personal to the learner!