Being at the forefront of technology trends, eLearning has shown to be a powerful business tool - saving significant amounts of money and training time whilst reducing employee turnover and allowing companies to stay ahead of the curve.
With increased importance on delivering engaging and motivating employee training programs, the interactive and personalized nature of eLearning courses allow staff to take a more active approach to learning, and encourages them to take responsibility for their own development. With total savings of 50-70% when replacing instructor-based training with eLearning, it’s easy to see why over 76% of Fortune 500 companies implement eLearning technology as a staple in their business model. In addition to monetary benefits, eLearning can reduce the time saved on training employees by up to 60%, allowing companies more time to focus on growth.
If you are one of the many businesses considering how you can leverage the benefits of eLearning solutions, here are some fundamental tips and traps to be aware of before you get started.
- Intellectual property
Always ensure that you have full ownership of your intellectual property - some eLearning vendors will provide you with the source files but won’t include the actual code template. Others won’t provide you with anything other than the published file for deployment. Ensure your contract clearly articulates that you own everything relating to the course including any pre-existing templates or software to avoid pricey contract variations when you want to edit and review your courses. Don’t let your investment hold you to ransom.
- Locked in to one provider
Many eLearning vendors use their own proprietary tools to create your courseware, deliberately binding you to the eLearning vendor and taking away your flexibility to source further competitive quotes. Once you’re locked into a proprietary tool (vendor) the only way out is to walk away from your investment, sacrificing money and time. If you are considering using a proprietary authoring tool, make sure you pick one that is suitable for your specific needs, and will support your cross-platform browser requirements for years to come. If the tool isn’t supported in the future, neither will your courseware.
- SCORM standards
If you are unaware of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), a collection of standards and specifications for web-based eLearning, it is essential you do some research before making any sort of commitment to an eLearning vendor. Even if you don’t need to report learner completions, consider building the course to industry SCORM standards and simply disable the SCORM communication. This approach will provide you with flexibility for the future without significant rework. Always think long-term - you never know what your reporting needs might be in the years to come.
- Vendor quotes
It’s important to compare apples with apples; often a difficult task when it comes to eLearning. Here’s a tip - after receiving a quote from an eLearning vendor, ask to see a functioning example of a course they have created based on the same scope they are proposing for your needs. This will mitigate any misunderstanding or misinterpretation and give you very clear expectations; making it easier for you to compare apples with apples.
- Flexibility and trust
Ensure you are well informed regarding expectations during review periods and edit cycles. Remember that flexibility is the key to ensuring the project runs smoothly. Many vendors often aim to make their profits through post-review contract variations, and avoiding them can save you time and money. It’s critically important to have confidence in your eLearning vendor - to trust that they are guiding you in the right direction and making decisions in your best interests, and not for their own self-serving benefit.
- Local resources
Some eLearning vendors will seek to cut costs by offshoring to third party production centers. This is risky as the course may look suitable at the interface, but the back-end code might be a complete maze. Fixing a third party’s code can be incredibly time consuming, especially if the third party has not taken the time to do it logically or based on the expectation the course may need to be updated in the future. When choosing a vendor, ensure your course is created locally and by a reputable eLearning vendor - when you buy a car you look under the bonnet to check everything is working, so make sure you do the same for your eLearning.
Over 15 years experience in the eLearning industry - director of Liberate eLearning, one of Australia's leading online and blended courseware providers, delivering hundreds of successful projects to clients all over the world.Website: www.liberateelearning.com.au/