Off-The-Shelf eLearning: 5 Benefits And 5 Drawbacks To Consider

Off-The-Shelf eLearning: 5 Benefits And 5 Drawbacks To Consider
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Summary: Is bespoke eLearning your best option? Or should you opt for out-of-the-box? In this article, I'll share 5 benefits and 5 drawbacks of off-the-shelf eLearning.

5 Benefits And 5 Drawbacks Of Off-The-Shelf eLearning

Off-the-shelf eLearning consists of pre-built online training courses that you can incorporate into your existing corporate eLearning program. No need to create your online training content from scratch or search high and low for eLearning templates and media, as the online training courses are ready to use right out of the box. But is it really the right choice for your organization? Here are the pros and cons of off-the-shelf eLearning you may want to consider.

5 Top Benefits Of Off-The-Shelf eLearning

1. Reduced Costs

Off-the-shelf eLearning is typically less costly than custom solutions. As you can save yourself the expense of eLearning authoring tools and human resources, such as hiring graphic designers and Subject Matter Experts to create your online training content. You simply purchase the online training materials, and then add them to your online course catalog or eLearning course design.

2. Ready To Deploy

Pre-built eLearning courses are ready to distribute to your audience. Therefore, you don't need to worry about testing out the finished product, or lengthy revision rounds to eliminate errors. Your employees can receive the benefits of the online training course right away.

3. No Need To Hire A Dedicated Development Team

Depending on the scope of the project, hiring a dedicated eLearning team to develop your online training course can be a significant investment. You have to pay for their time and expertise, as well as for the tools and resources they require for the job. Off-the-shelf eLearning eliminates the need to enlist an eLearning development team and outsource content creation projects.

4. Content Backed By Industry Experts

In most cases, out-of-the-box eLearning is created by experienced SMEs, Instructional Designers, and Graphic Designers who are well versed on the topic. Thus, the online training content is backed by experts in the field who know which information to include and how to deliver it in an easily digestible format. This increases knowledge retention and recall, which improves your online training ROI.

5. Does Not Put A Strain On Your Current Resources

Your staff is already pressed for time. Likewise, you have worked diligently to allocate your online training resources and stretch your corporate eLearning budget. Pre-built eLearning comes in a neat little package that doesn't require any of your time or assets. For example, you don't need to assign even more work responsibilities to your top talent.

5 Notable Drawbacks Of Off-the-Shelf eLearning

1. Little Room For Branding

In most cases, you aren't able to integrate your own branding elements into the pre-built eLearning course. That includes logos, color schemes, and other elements that align with your image. Thus, you aren't able to establish your brand or build credibility with the resource. That said, certain off-the-shelf options do allow you to add specific branding, such as your logo or social media links.

2. Online Training Content May Not Support Organizational Objectives

Creating custom eLearning resources gives you the ability to align your online training content with organizational goals and objectives. However, out-of-the-box solutions are created for the masses. They are produced with specific needs and desired outcomes in mind. But those may not be the same outcomes that you are trying to achieve.

3. Lack Of Learning Personalization

One of the most significant drawbacks of off-the-shelf eLearning is that it may not meet the needs of your corporate learners, or cater to their personal and learning preferences. The eLearning course developer didn't have access to your learner research data, such as surveys or online training assessments that identify their skill and performance gaps. Thus, the online training content may be slightly off-target. For example, it addresses common performance issues and covers the key takeaways, but it doesn't touch on the individual concerns that hinder your employee's productivity.

4. Requires Special Licenses Or Subscriptions

Most off-the-shelf eLearning courses come with special usages rights and licenses. Meaning that you can only use the off-the-shelf resource for specific applications. For instance, you cannot resell it or utilize it for commercial purposes. In addition, certain pre-built options involve monthly or yearly subscription fees. Therefore, you have to renew your license periodically in order to keep it in your eLearning course catalog.

5. More Difficult To Revise Or Update Your Online Training Course

Pre-built off-the-shelf eLearning courses come with everything you need. However, needs change over time. And you may find it difficult to update or revise the online training content. Depending on the situation and usage rights, you'll have to invest in an eLearning authoring tool to make changes or purchase additional online trainning resources.

3 Top Tips To Choose The Ideal Off-The-Shelf eLearning Course For Your Organization

1. Is In-House Development An Option?

Take stock of your current resources to ensure that you don't already have what you need to create an online training course from scratch. For example, you may be able to repurpose existing online training material with the help of a rapid eLearning authoring tool.

2. Ensure Accessibility

Ensure that the online training content is compliant with your Learning Management System or other delivery platforms. The online training content must also be responsive so that it's accessible on any device. Keep in mind that modern corporate learners are looking for mobile-friendly online training courses that travel with them.

3. Create An Itemized Corporate eLearning Budget

Create a detailed corporate eLearning budget that includes all associated costs, from the fees you have to pay to purchase the pre-built online training materials to the monthly upkeep expenses, as well as additional employees you must hire to deploy and maintain the courses. Periodically re-evaluate this budget to verify that off-the-shelf is still a viable option, or if you should think about getting bespoke online training resources for your organization.

Pre-built off-the-shelf online training resources are a cost-effective way to expand your online training library and enhance your current eLearning course design. However, you should take certain factors into account before making your final decision. For example, do you want to integrate your own branding? Or create personalized online training paths that align with your organizational goals? Budget is a major consideration, but it's not the only criteria.

Are you still undecided about which option is best for your corporate learners? Read the article Catalog eLearning Courses vs Custom eLearning Courses: 6 Factors To Consider to help you choose the best custom and catalog eLearning courses addressing to your audience.