Let’s say you have been training your employees the traditional way – with face-to-face interactions in classrooms. With growing workforce and increased frequency of training programs, instructor-led training is no longer viable. Hence, you search for alternatives. You have heard about e-learning and are looking to contact vendors for a quote. But before doing that, it is a good idea to understand the typical services e-learning vendors provide and how they price those services.
Services provided by e-learning vendors and how they are priced
Established e-learning companies typically provide the following services:
1. E-learning design and development
E-learning design and development refers to the creation of self-paced online courses based on the raw content/inputs that you provide. For example, you can provide a bunch of PowerPoint slides and speakers notes and ask for them to be converted into e-learning. Such courses will have limited interactivities – you might just add narration to PowerPoint slides and include assessments at the end to test learners. This will be relatively easier to produce.
However, what happens if there are no speaker notes in the PowerPoint deck? If learning has to be through and meaningful, e-learning developers will have to assess whether the content available is sufficient and what is the best possible way to present the content (instructional strategy to be used).
Pricing criteria: So, when vendors quote a price for e-learning development, they assess the content that is given for development – its completeness and thoroughness in terms of filling the absence of a face-to-face instructor. They would require inputs from SMEs in case of missing content. Pricing also depends on the extent of interactivities and customization that you want for the course.
Sometimes, PPTs may not be user-friendly to be used as they are and need to be completely re-worked on. For example, if a PPT slide has too much content, a developer will have to re-arrange it and present it in a format that is most appropriate for easy understanding to learners who are on their own. This requires more effort and more number of hours by learning designers. Therefore, the cost would also be higher.
E-learning development costs depend on the following:
- Extent of customization, interactivities, and complexity of subject
- Developmental hours of instructional designers, SMEs, and developers
- E-learning course components you want to outsource
2. Translation and localization
E-learning translations make it easy for you to reach out to your global workforce, ensure consistency of training, and enable rolling out training simultaneously throughout your organization, irrespective of the geographical location of your employees. Before translating an online course, it is also essential to evaluate if the course requires to be localized for the target region. You need to check:
- For content that may be irrelevant or inappropriate to the target group
- If the graphics and text need replacement or rearrangement
It is always better to get someone who is a learning and training expert to oversee e-learning translations. This way, you are sure that the learning effectiveness of a course is not lost in translation.
Pricing criteria: Costs of e-learning translation and localization depend on the effort and work that is required. If the course in the source language is translation-ready, the costs will be lower. It also depends on the language into which the course is to be translated. For example, translating English courses into Spanish or French costs less than translating into languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, or Japanese due to the orientation of textual content. However, broadly it will depend on the following factors:
- The language into which the course has to be translated
- Complexity of the course
- Volume of content ( text, graphics, audio, video elements)
3. LMS hosting and administration
Once the e-learning course is developed, you need to put it in a place easily accessible by your employees. You can put it on a website, intranet site, or an online portal. However, most companies prefer to host it on a Learning Management System as it allows them to assign courses based on relevance and need, track learner progress, and generate reports to assess training completion and success.
Pricing criteria: LMS services will be priced based on the services you require. If you already have an in-house LMS, you just need to ask your e-learning vendors to provide the relevant files and your in-house team will do the rest. If you don’t have an LMS, your e-learning vendors can help you set up one and customize it based on your requirements. Broadly speaking, the pricing for LMS services will depend on the following factors:
- Commercial LMS or Open Source LMS
- Extent of customization in case of setting up a new LMS
- Need for post-installation administration support (in terms of hosting and managing courses)
- Need for user-support to troubleshoot and answer queries
I hope this blog gives you an overview of how e-learning vendors price their services. The good part of choosing an e-learning vendor is that you get to choose the extent to which you want to outsource your e-learning requirements. You have complete control over what to outsource, how much to outsource, and when to outsource. A vendor who provides you with that flexibility will end up being your long term partner for e-learning services.