Many organizations today are integrating e-learning solutions into their training programs. With the introduction of self-paced e-learning, most companies go through this dilemma of whether to go for off-the-shelf e-learning courses or a customized e-learning course. In this context, let us understand the pros and cons of off-the-shelf e-learning and custom e-learning course.
Off-the-shelf course: Off-the-shelf e-learning is a generic course that is developed to address the general learning needs of the company and does not cater to specific needs.
Pros: Off-the-shelf courses are relatively cheaper as the development cost is distributed among many users. It saves time on development as the quality checks and testing are handled by the vendor.
This is an ideal training for generic subjects such as technology, safety, compliance and more. The deployment is faster when compared to custom e-learning courses.
Cons: On the other hand, content may not be completely relevant as it is designed for various users and for varied purposes. The vendor may not know the core business functionalities and so a general course is developed. As it is a generic course, it addresses the general learning needs so the specific business needs may not be met.
Custom e-learning course: A custom e-learning course is a learning solution that specifically caters to the learning needs of the organization. Building a custom e-learning solution is to develop courses that meet company’s unique objectives. Listed below are the pros and cons of the same.
Pros: Specific needs of the organization are addressed, as it is process specific and is easy to understand. Licenses are not required and the course may be rolled out to as many users as needed. Enhancements and editions may be made easily and quickly as and when the business requirements change. One can develop the course with lesser modules and evaluate the efficacy as required. Changes and updates may be made and more modules can be added based on the need.
Unlike off-the-shelf courses, in a customized e-learning course, the license may be owned. This means that you own the course permanently along with the source file. There are no recurring costs or registration fees. A one-time pay is required, the course is hosted on the company’s LMS. Any changes in the course content can be made as many times as needed quickly.
Cons: The development cost is high; also considering the time and efforts involved to develop the course the in-house resources may face a challenge with regards to course developments, as that may not be the company’s core competency.
Many a time, ready courses can meet the general aspects of your training. Off-the-shelf courses are easily accessible but in the long run, this may not work to address the learning needs of the employees On the other hand, a customized e-learning course looks into every smaller aspect pertaining to training. So before you choose either of the approaches, you need to look into the factors such as licensing costs, alignment with your business needs and modifications and re-use. This makes it very clear to opt for an approach that suits the training needs of your organizations.
More about Custom e-learning:
Sir Ken Robinson an author/educator in one of his talks shared his views about the need for a revolution, which was viewed by millions. He states that we cannot have an industrial mechanical model for training. We may need to create a system that is not a replica of another but is rather customized according to the needs of the audiences, situations and organizational objectives. In this regard, he also stated that off-the-shelf e-Learning may not be a good idea, as it is always better to customize courses based on unique needs as required by the organization.
Based on this context, let us look into the benefits of custom e-learning:
- A custom e-learning course makes learning very effective, as it is customized according to the learners’ needs.
- Content and assessments are specific that help in bridging the gaps of the employee from the current pace to a desired outcome. Custom e-learning provides practical learning solutions where the learner is focused and aligned to business goals.
- Customization gives you the finest output of an e-learning course, considering all other aspects such as content, budget, audience, and so on.
- Customized training is effective when it is practically combined with different case studies and scenarios where learners can understand the concepts well and relate them to their work.
- Custom e-learning provides a specific learning solution, which is much reasonable than spending time in training that is completely generic in nature. Thus, it is cost effective and a personalized method of learning.
A customized course may be re-used and re-purposed according to specific requirements. Although the course may be time consuming initially, it is definitely beneficial in the long run that results in happy customers.