The Hidden Costs Behind eLearning

The Hidden Costs Behind eLearning
Summary: eLearning development is an investment whose goal is to achieve the best possible return, with careful planning that limits direct and indirect eLearning costs, while still creating effective online learning. Discover the hidden costs of eLearning development before they find you!

Discover The Hidden eLearning Costs You Didn’t Know Existed

Developing an eLearning course is a creative and enriching experience, whether for the purpose of training staff or just about any other reason actually. Because enabling people to grow, improve, and achieve their development goals through flexible eLearning courses is a meaningful feat.

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Free eBook - An Introduction To eLearning Costs And How To Reduce Them
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And once you’re familiar with the obvious eLearning development costs, you can do it all within budget, too. Well, not always. Because sometimes what you don’t know, can hurt you.

And the last thing you want creeping up as you prepare to launch the training program that’s absorbed so much effort and planning - are more costs.

Whether developing highly interactive online training, or a simple static course, hidden costs can arise where you least expect them.

So, while there are general categories of eLearning costs that should be obvious considerations in development, it’s also important to consider what lies beneath.

These often indirect eLearning costs can be found hiding out in the content development, the learning platform, internal skills training, and even in the time taken to complete development. Let’s unpack them a little more.

The Cost Of Making Mistakes

eLearning holds unquestionable benefits, like flexible and engaging learning in a fast-paced digital world. But the hard truth is that if you’re new to eLearning, or even just starting a new online training program, there can be some trial and error.

Sure, it helps to set out clear and realistic training objectives, to integrate learning systems with other internal business systems and to get the right development team on board. But some mistakes might be made along the way.

And the time it takes to learn from these mistakes, to correct them and to deal with any impact they’ve had on the development process, will probably add to the eLearning costs.

That’s why it’s important to plan well, to use the best tools with the best support, and to arm yourself with a team skilled in eLearning development. Using these mistakes, and regular opportunities for feedback, will enable you to refine the course development process and create an impressive online training program.

It’s all in line with a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

The Costs Of Technology

Choosing the right LMS and authoring tools for your training needs is one of the most important decisions of eLearning. But don’t forget to consider the fees, all of the fees, that come with it.

Because sometimes the best features are paired with additional costs hidden in the fine print. Costs that rack up quicker than you can say "eLearning".

Besides the initial startup and signup costs of the LMS and authoring tools, fees for upgrades, licensing, storage, and even support can be the type of costs that sneak into your development budget and tip it over the edge.

One of the key questions to ask when committing to an LMS and trying to keep training costs down is, what is the vendor’s pricing when it comes to the number of active users?

In order to make an informed decision, consider the number of learners (active users) that you’re likely to have in your eLearning courses. Of course, you wouldn’t want to pay for more users than you actually have, or are likely to get in the near future.

So, make sure to choose a pricing plan that gets you the most for your predicted number of users.

The Costs Of Inexperience

The best paints and brushes in the world will do nothing for an artist who can’t paint. And something similar applies to eLearning.

Having great support staff and expert course instructors won’t matter if the course structure is confusing, the learning platform is difficult to navigate, and the learning materials are of poor quality. This is why it’s so important to have the necessary skills on your eLearning development team.

Some of the most significant contributions to eLearning course development costs are skills training and outsourcing. This includes employees involved in creating the course design and materials, like Instructional Designers, as well as the industry experts involved in creating content.

If your eLearning development team lacks the technical know-how to leverage all the features of your LMS, then they’ll require training. Training requires resources and time, ultimately adding costs to the development.

By assessing your eLearning team’s skills and abilities, you’ll know where skills are lacking and how to close those gaps. The costs associated with closing those gaps can then be worked into the development budget.

This helps to avoid a pressurized situation where you’re rushed to upskill or outsourced experts and specialists at a premium price, later on.

The Cost Of Content Creation

Now, this one might confuse you just a little. You’re thinking that content creation, of course, is a natural cost of the development of an eLearning course. But you’d be surprised at how often the costs of content creation are underestimated.

Not only can content creation be time to consume, but it usually also requires expert knowledge. So, sometimes eLearning content requires input from industry experts outside the business.

Sourcing industry experts or experienced content authors tend to significantly and unexpectedly drive up the eLearning course development costs.

But besides the cost of their time, content creators form an integral part of the development process, and can unexpectedly increase costs through delays.

Why would there be delays? Well, often, those involved in designing and developing learning content have other roles that extend beyond content production, and sometimes even beyond the business.

Failing to meet deadlines in the project, or delivering poor quality content, can create a bottleneck in the development process. These delays and revisions end up costing valuable time and money.

The Costs Of Maintenance And Revision

Development is not a one-time thing. Rather, it’s an iterative process, one that continually aims to improve the learning experience and ultimately better the training ROI.

Course material needs to be kept up to date and relevant, in order to keep both the training effective and learners interested.

Furthermore, eLearning (like most technological businesses) is often open to technical issues. So, frequent maintenance of the online training program is a necessity.

This kind of ongoing revision and maintenance can be time-consuming and costly. So, when estimating eLearning costs, don’t limit the budget to the first development. Work in the costs of ongoing maintenance, improvements, and revisions as you refine the quality and effectiveness of the eLearning course.

With an LMS that offers reporting and tracking, like TalentLMS does, you’ll be able to measure the benefits of these improvements, too.

The Costs Of Time

As the saying goes - time is money. And boy is it! In fact, it’s a challenge to find anyone who doesn’t complain about the 24-hour limit in a day. And while it might not seem like the biggest cost, developing an eLearning course takes a lot of time.

Features like gamification and microlearning are fun, they’re exciting, and strangely enough, they often save time for the learner. But before committing to a long, complex, or highly interactive course, consider how a prolonged or intensive demand on the development team’s time could affect staff training costs.

Why It’s Worth It In The End

Alright, so eLearning development can pose some obvious (and less obvious) costs. But when the multiple benefits are taken into account, like interactive and engaged learners, flexible and tailored learning activities, and a far-reaching target audience, it all becomes worthwhile.

The critical first step is one you’ve already taken (because you’re reading this right now). It’s to fully understand the eLearning costs that you’ll encounter and the decisions that will control those costs in order to achieve the key training objectives, within budget.

Related articles:

1. You’ve Got Options: Comparing Online And Offline Training Costs For Smarter Training Decisions

2. 6 Steps To Successful, Cost-Effective Training

3. Reduce The Cost Of Training Employees With These Simple Techniques

4. Think Ahead: The Costs Associated With eLearning Development

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