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The What, Why, and How of Off-the-Shelf eLearning Courses

Given the situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies are trying to shift their L&D from the traditional in-person Instructor-led Training (ILT) to eLearning courses. While custom eLearning courses are preferable any day, going with catalog courses makes sense for training topics which are generic and need almost immediate rollout. You can call it a quick fix to kickstart online training while you eventually venture into custom course development with rapid eLearning – the one-stop solution to evolving at the speed of business.

According to the 2019 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn, a vast majority of talent developers are beginning to use off-the-shelf content along with custom eLearning to offer curated learning paths for their employees.

An all in all guide on rapid eLearning – what, why, how and more!

What are Off-the Shelf eLearning Courses?

Off-the-shelf eLearning courses, also known as catalog courses, are readymade corporate training options that you can buy and use, straight off the shelf, as the name implies. These are pre-designed and cover commonly sought-after topics such as safety and soft skills.

What are Off-the Shelf eLearning Courses

Take for example, a company with a large workforce spread across several locations. While they will need specialized courses catering to their specific technical knowledge and skills, they also need to be trained in more generic areas. All new hires, for instance, might need to be trained on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, and maybe, on information system and security awareness (covering the basic best practices). These are what you could look for in an off-the-shelf eLearning course.

Why go for Off-the-Shelf eLearning Courses?

1. No Waiting Time

These courses take little to no time to roll out. You save time on content curation, designing the storyboards, and developing courses. They are all ready to be added directly into your Learning Management System (LMS), drastically bringing down your rollout time.

This is especially useful in crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, if your organization is shifting from ILT to virtual training now, you might need to train your classroom trainers on virtual delivery. You can do so with a catalog course which quickly offers best practices for the same.

2. Needs Smaller Budget

Catalog courses allow you to start with your eLearning program on a much shorter budget, before you move on to the more expensive custom eLearning courses.

Specialized courses often come at a slightly higher cost than off-the-shelf eLearning courses. You can get the best of both by availing catalog courses for your more generic training needs, and opting for custom courses for your organization’s specific needs.

3. Ideal for Generic Training

As we already discussed, catalog courses are generally used by companies to address the more generic training needs of their employees across specialties, swiftly and easily.

For example, soft skills training, has very generic training content that can be handled perfectly well by off-the-shelf eLearning courses.

4. Quick Fix for Emergency Situations

When you are faced by a crisis like the current pandemic – COVID-19 – and are suddenly required shifting to eLearning, you might want to go for easily available online off-the-shelf courses created by experts.

In the present situation with physical distancing, there is no possibility of conducting ILT sessions. In such a scenario, the immediate response of most L&D professionals is to look for the best off-the-shelf eLearning courses in the market and get the employees started on these. This buys you time to create custom eLearning courses and also ensure your training initiatives are kept alive. 

What Should You do Before Purchasing Off-the-Shelf Courses?

1. Check Compatibility with Mobile Devices

You must check to see if the catalog courses support your chosen delivery method. So, if you are looking for mobile learning on tablets and smartphones, you should check if courses are compliant with them.

Whether your employees are working from home or learning on the go, they will need courses that can be accessed on mobile devices, anywhere and anytime, to facilitate continual learning.

2. Preview Sample Courses

Written descriptions may not give an accurate idea of the learning experience provided by the course. That is why most experienced eLearning vendors provide previews or sample versions for each course, which you can look at before you complete the purchase.

There may be several catalog courses available for the same topic from different vendors. The sample preview will help you shortlist the course that is best at engaging learners and built to address adult learning needs.

3. Look for Additional Customer Support Service

It’s always a win-win situation if your eLearning vendor offers additional customer service for custom as well as catalog courses.

Look if the vendor offers additional services such as:

  • Discounts or offers for multiple licenses
  • Course hosting on your LMS, with your corporate branding
  • Minor customization to include content specific to your organization

While off-the-shelf eLearning courses are very simple to purchase and roll out to employees, you may encounter many issues during the process – such as incompatibility with your LMS or tracking and reporting bugs. Around-the-clock customer support service can help sort out these issues.

It’s Wrap Time!

More and more organizations are making the shift from ILT to eLearning. In this blog, we have given you the top why’s and how’s of choosing off-the-shelf eLearning courses. This will no doubt answer your most urgent questions about these courses and why it is a great place to begin your organization’s eLearning journey.

Off-the-shelf eLearning courses are one of the good options during the challenging times to make the leap toward online training. However, it’s always better to go full-fledged with custom online training.

However, in case you’re looking for catalog courses, here’s a library full of ready-to-rollout eLearning courses on various subjects – how to effectively manage virtual team, train the trainer and so many more! Follow the banner below to find your pick.

The eLearning Champion’s Guide to Master Design, Delivery, and Evaluation