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Custom eLearning vs. Off-the-Shelf Courses

Custom eLearning vs Off-the-Shelf Courses

When it comes to eLearning, you have two main options: custom eLearning and off-the-shelf courses. Let's explore the characteristics and benefits of each approach:

Custom eLearning

Custom eLearning involves creating a course specifically tailored to meet your organization's needs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Flexibility: Custom eLearning allows you to design the content, structure, and format of the course according to your requirements. It can be customized to align with your organization's branding, culture, and specific learning objectives.

  • Targeted Content: With custom eLearning, you can focus on the specific knowledge and skills your employees need. It enables you to address unique challenges, industry-specific regulations, or internal processes, ensuring the training is highly relevant.

  • Engaging and Interactive: Custom eLearning allows for the creation of engaging and interactive learning experiences. You can incorporate multimedia elements, interactive scenarios, simulations, and gamification to enhance learner engagement and knowledge retention.

  • Scalability: While custom eLearning requires an initial investment in development, it offers long-term scalability. Once created, you can easily update and adapt the content as needed without relying on external providers.

  • Time and Cost: Developing custom eLearning can be time-consuming and more expensive upfront compared to off-the-shelf courses. It requires subject matter expertise, instructional design, and multimedia development skills. However, it can yield significant returns on investment by addressing specific training needs effectively.

Off-the-Shelf Courses:

Off-the-shelf courses are pre-designed and ready-made courses that cover a broad range of topics. Consider the following aspects:

  • Convenience and Speed: Off-the-shelf courses are readily available, requiring minimal setup time. They can be quickly deployed, allowing employees to start training immediately. This is beneficial when time is a critical factor.

  • Variety and Breadth: Off-the-shelf courses typically cover a wide range of topics and can be suitable for general skill development, such as leadership, communication, or compliance training. They offer a broad selection to choose from, catering to various training needs.

  • Cost-Effective: Off-the-shelf courses are generally more cost-effective than custom eLearning since the development costs are shared across multiple customers. The upfront investment is lower, making it a viable option for organizations with budget constraints.

  • Limited Customization: While some off-the-shelf courses allow minor customization, they are designed to meet general training needs. It might not align perfectly with your organization's specific requirements or industry regulations. You may have limited control over the content and structure.

  • Less Engagement: Off-the-shelf courses might lack the same level of engagement and interactivity as custom eLearning. They often rely on traditional presentation-style formats, limiting the potential for interactive elements and personalized learning experiences.

Tips for Custom eLearning Development

Here are some tips to consider when developing custom eLearning courses:

Define Clear Learning Objectives

Clearly define the desired outcomes and learning objectives for your eLearning course. This will help guide the content development process and ensure that the course is focused and effective.

Understand Your Audience

Identify your target audience and their specific needs, preferences, and skill levels. Consider factors such as their job roles, experience levels, learning styles, and any cultural or language considerations. This information will help you tailor the course content and delivery to their requirements.

Collaborate with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Work closely with subject matter experts who possess the knowledge and expertise relevant to the course topic. SMEs can provide valuable insights, review content for accuracy, and ensure that the course aligns with industry standards and best practices.

Apply Instructional Design Principles

Apply sound instructional design principles to create effective learning experiences. Use strategies such as chunking information, providing clear navigation, incorporating assessments and feedback, and using multimedia elements to enhance engagement and retention.

Incorporate Interactivity

To promote learner engagement and knowledge retention, include interactive elements in your eLearning course. This could involve branching scenarios, simulations, quizzes, drag-and-drop exercises, case studies, or gamification elements. Interactivity keeps learners actively involved and enhances their understanding and application of the content.

Design User-Friendly Navigation

Ensure that the eLearning course has intuitive and user-friendly navigation. Learners should be able to easily navigate through the course, access specific modules or sections, and return to previous content if needed. Clear instructions and a logical flow will enhance the overall user experience.

Optimize for Mobile Devices

With the increasing use of mobile devices, design your custom eLearning courses to be mobile-responsive. This means ensuring that the course content and user interface adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices. Mobile optimization allows learners to access the training conveniently, anytime and anywhere.

Plan for Assessments and Feedback

Incorporate assessments throughout the course to measure learners' understanding and progress. Use a variety of assessment formats, such as multiple-choice questions, interactive scenarios, or assignments, to evaluate knowledge and skill acquisition. Provide timely and constructive feedback to guide learners and reinforce their learning.

Pilot Test and Gather Feedback

Before launching the eLearning course widely, conduct pilot tests with a representative sample of learners. Collect their feedback on the course content, structure, navigation, and overall user experience. This feedback will help you identify areas for improvement and refine the course before full deployment.

Regularly Update and Maintain the Course

Learning needs and technologies evolve over time. Plan for regular updates and maintenance of your eLearning course to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. This may involve incorporating new content, updating references, refreshing multimedia elements, or addressing any technical issues that arise.

How to Source Off-the-Shelf Courses

Sourcing off-the-shelf courses for your eLearning needs involves a few steps. Here's a general process you can follow:

Identify Your Training Needs

Determine the specific training topics or areas where you require off-the-shelf courses. Consider the knowledge and skills your employees need to develop or the compliance requirements you must meet.

Research Content Providers

Look for reputable eLearning content providers that offer off-the-shelf courses in your desired subject areas. You can use search engines or explore eLearning marketplaces mentioned earlier to discover potential providers. Pay attention to their reputation, customer reviews, and the range of courses they offer.

Evaluate Course Quality

Once you have a list of potential content providers, assess the quality of their courses. Look for course descriptions, outlines, and sample materials to gauge the relevance and depth of the content. If possible, request access to demos or trial versions of the courses to evaluate their instructional design, interactivity, and overall effectiveness.

Consider Customization Options

Determine the level of customization available for the off-the-shelf courses. Some providers may offer limited customization options, allowing you to add your branding or specific company policies. Assess if the available customization aligns with your organization's needs and preferences.

Assess Delivery Formats

Evaluate the delivery formats of the off-the-shelf courses. Determine if they are compatible with your learning management system (LMS) or if the courses can be hosted on the provider's platform. Consider factors such as SCORM or xAPI compliance, mobile compatibility, and the ease of integrating the courses into your existing infrastructure.

Review Pricing and Licensing

Examine the pricing models and licensing terms of the off-the-shelf courses. Determine if the pricing structure fits your budget and if the licensing allows for the number of users or duration you require. Some providers may offer subscription-based models, while others may sell courses individually or in bundles.

Request References and Samples

Reach out to the content providers and request references from other organizations that have used their off-the-shelf courses. Ask for case studies or success stories to understand how the courses have benefited other clients. Additionally, request samples or previews of the courses to assess their quality firsthand.

Make an Informed Decision

Based on your evaluations and assessments, select the content provider(s) that best meet your needs. Consider factors such as course quality, customization options, delivery formats, pricing, and licensing terms. Negotiate contracts and agreements, ensuring clarity on support, updates, and any additional services required.

Implement and Integrate

Once you've procured the off-the-shelf courses, integrate them into your learning management system (if applicable) or deploy them through the chosen delivery method. Communicate the availability of the courses to your learners and provide instructions on accessing and completing the training.

About LMS Portals

At LMS Portals, we provide our clients and partners with a SaaS-based, multi-tenant learning management system that allows you to launch a dedicated training environment (a portal) for each of your unique audiences.

The system includes built-in, SCORM-compliant course authoring software that enables most anyone to build custom courses quickly and easily.

We also offer a complete library of off-the-shelf courses, covering most every aspect of corporate training and employee development.

If you choose to, you can create Learning Paths to deliver courses in a logical progression and add structure to your training program. The system also supports Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) and provides tools for social learning.

Together, these features make the LMS Portals platform the ideal learning management system for your corporate training and employee development program.

Contact us today to get started or visit our Partner Program pages

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