Why Do We Still Bulk Buy eLearning Courses?

Bulk Buy eLearning Courses Vs eLearning On Demand 

ROI on the bulk buy license can look pretty appealing, right? Spend £10,000 on a library of 50 eLearning courses for a 200 strong workforce and it could cost as little as £1 per course enrollment! But Learning and Development (L&D) professionals aren’t dumb: They don’t actually expect this to happen. When they calculate the real cost of buying eLearning, usage rates are often very low, and it actually ends up costing more like £100 per course enrollment.

Traditionally publishers have been forced to take a sledgehammer approach to pricing because they had no control over what happened after their courses were sold and uploaded to the customer’s Learning Management System. Putting courses in the cloud changes all of that. Now we have the technology to track usage in real time. The metrics that we have in front of us are pioneering and incredibly useful in driving better purchasing decisions. We can look at usage patterns not just across one workforce but across entire industries. We can see which courses are popular, how long courses take to complete, pinpoint weak areas where courses are under-performing, monitor completion rates and spot new trends faster.

At Course-Source we use tracking technology and usage data to offer a system that lets Learning and Development departments take up pay-per-use pricing options without ditching the Learning Management System they already have. Learning and Development managers choose the course publishers they like then buy batches of “enrollment units” that can be redeemed for any of the courses their preferred publishers offer. Every time a learner enrolls in a course one unit is automatically redeemed. When units starts to run low, automatic alerts remind the L&D department to top-up.

We believe that charging “per enrollment” offers best value for today’s training manager, but the whole area of learning analytics is opening up new opportunities for all of us.

Clicking With The Customer 

Charlotte Gibbs is Talent and Learning Coordinator at financial services business, Maitland. “Like all large businesses, Maitland experiences seasonal trends in training”, explains Charlotte. “At some points of the year people are just too busy to do the courses they want. Other times, like during annual reviews for instance, demand for course access goes up considerably. Using the per-enrollment model allows us to cope with the ebb and flow of corporate learning”.

“With the traditional license model, we would have to wait until the end of the license to find out how much it actually cost per learning interaction (course enrollment), which was often much higher than expected. The per-enrollment model means we know how much each course enrollment costs and we get exactly what we pay for”.

Is Enrollment Based Pricing Always Cheaper? 

No. Most Learning and Development managers find it's cheaper, but if courses actually are being consumed in the numbers predicted by the bulk buy license seller, then the bulk buy model will probably work out cheaper.

Enrollment based pricing makes most sense in the voluntary side of eLearning. When eLearning supports mandatory compliance requirements, and everyone in the company is required to complete the learning, the model may not offer the best pricing.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

What Is Bespoke eLearning? Featuring 6 Killer Examples

What Is Bespoke eLearning?

There are two kinds of online courses that you can choose from for your eLearning needs:

  • Off-the-shelf courses (generic).
    Off-the-shelf courses are ready to use.
  • Bespoke (also known as custom) courses.
    Bespoke or custom courses, as the name suggests, are specifically designed or tailor made to meet your requirement.

Off-the-shelf courses can be deployed quickly, whereas bespoke or custom courses will need longer time to develop and deploy. While bespoke courses may be more expensive on account of initial development costs, they would not have any associated recurring licensing costs.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Bespoke eLearning?

Bespoke eLearning courses are branded for your organization. They may use the raw content that you have or use content that is specifically created for you. The examples and case studies would be relevant to your organization and the assessments would be specifically designed for you. Their design approach factors for your learners’ preferences, your culture, and is tailor made to meet your learning and business mandates.

How Does Bespoke eLearning Fare Against Off-the-shelf Courses? 

Off-the-shelf courses are quicker to deploy, but have certain inherent shortcomings. By definition, they are generic and may not be able to meet the specific requirements of your organization. Again, they offer standard features that you need to live with and they cannot be customized to suit your specific requirements.

Let us see how these aspects are offset in the bespoke approach and what advantages you will get when you opt for it:

  1. The courses are developed as per your branding. They feature your imagery and this helps learners relate and connect better to the learning piece.
  2. The content is specific to you and your learners. It is presented in a form that will engage them and ensures the required learning mandate is met.
  3. The learning experience is customized to your program. It uses a learning strategy that is best suited to meet the required learning mandate.
  4. The Assessment strategy is customized and aligns effectively to your learning and business mandates.
  5. Looking at your dynamics, the delivery format can be for traditional eLearning or multi-device (the content would run on tablets and smartphones). This enables you to choose an authoring tool that is most suited to your requirements.
  6. You can also decide on supplementing your primary eLearning with Performance Support intervention that can lead to better application of the learning on the job. This will have a significant impact on the ROI of eLearning.

The Bespoke eLearning Advantage Through 6 Examples

Let me illustrate the advantages of bespoke eLearning through 6 examples.

I have selected examples that address varied training needs like compliance, application simulation, and professional skills. The first example illustrates an approach that is scalable and can be applied for any training area like soft skills, induction programs, and so on.

Bespoke eLearning Example 1: To highlight intuitive and immersive experience.

This example is my personal favorite, as it showcases a design that does not have a “Click next to continue” or “Prompt text”. The learner can intuitively ascertain (through visual cues provided alongside the content) on what should be done next. It creates an immersive and engaging learning experience.

It is a multi-device design that adapts equally well to PCs/laptops or tablets.

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Bespoke eLearning Example 2: Gamification in Compliance.

We created a simulation-based task-oriented Gamification course, which was interactive and engrossing. To achieve this, we incorporated a real work environment (visually), an element of challenge (bonuses and bombs), rewards for success (caps, badges), and learning through activities including elements of surprise and delight.

Do refer to this case study in detail in my earlier article Gamification in Compliance through a serious game concept.

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Bespoke eLearning Example 3: Branching scenario and simulations with a progress indicator.

This example showcases a complex decision making scenario. While the learners are going through the scenario, the visual indicator (shown on the right) provides cues on how they are faring. This enables them to pause and reflect on their choices and even re-think their strategy mid-courseBespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke5

Bespoke eLearning Example 4: Application Simulation.

This is a great example of how we uplifted dry and linear content into an interesting and engaging format.

We chose a responsive design (to support PCs, Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones) and made learning bite-sized enabling learners to undertake a long, arduous journey in short, engaging steps.

You can view the "Office 2013 – Application Simulation" under App Simulations section (as part of our Demos).Bespoke eLearning EI_Design_BiSpoke6

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Bespoke eLearning Example 5: Scenario with a twist.

In our suite of Generic Compliance, we chose a scenario with a twist by adding a theme of “Choose the Right Path”. While all of us have a sense of right and wrong, this approach added value in the context of the specific compliance mandate in terms of the most appropriate behavior and why the learners need to demonstrate the same.

You can view the "Compliance – Introduction to the Code of Conduct" under Compliance section (as part of our Demos).

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Bespoke eLearning Example 6: Performance Support Tool - Featuring Interactive PDFs as a learning aid to supplement online learning.

This is also one of my personal favorites, as it provides a better learning experience through simplicity.

Interactive PDFs can be used to convert mountains of boring information into a visually appealing, interactive format. Furthermore, you can integrate videos, interactive demos, and audio to create an engaging learning experience.

Do refer to the detailed case study on this outlining the value the Interactive pdf brought to my PowerPoint deck in my earlier article Performance support - Featuring Interactive pdf as a Learning Aid to supplement online learning.

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I do hope these examples illustrate the power of custom or bespoke eLearning in creating an effective and immersive learning experience. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Catalog eLearning Courses vs Custom eLearning Courses: 6 Factors To Consider

6 Factors To Consider When You Choose Between Catalog eLearning Courses And Custom eLearning Courses  

The oldest eLearning dilemma: custom or off the shelf? Sometimes it is difficult to decide. Both customized and pre-built eLearning courses have benefits and drawbacks, and unless your selection process is not carefully planned, you might end up with a product that may neither suit your needs, nor the ones of your eLearning audience. In this article, I'll share 6 top tips that will make your decision making process as easy as it gets.

  1. Decide whether you need custom or catalog eLearning courses. 
    The first thing you need to do, when deciding which type of eLearning course is right for you, is make sure that you know exactly what custom and catalog eLearning courses can offer you, as well as what they can’t. Some of the advantages of custom eLearning courses are that they can meet your audience’s unique needs, they do not require user licenses, they can be easily modified and you have complete ownership of the product. On the other hand, they are usually quite expensive, they take long to create, and they require high design and development skills. With respect to catalog eLearning courses, keep in mind that they are ready to use, they are relatively cheap and they require very few internal resources. In addition they are ideal for providing generic eLearning content. On the other hand, catalogue eLearning courses haven´t been designed to meet the unique needs of your organization, so they do not address specific goals of yours and, therefore, you might always run the risk they might provide you with irrelevant information. Your final decision on whether to opt for custom or catalog eLearning courses should be based on the particular needs of your organization and your available budget.
  2. Have a clear idea of expectations and desired results of the eLearning course.
    Before you start looking for a custom eLearning course provider, it’s important to have a clear sense of what you hope to achieve with the custom or catalog eLearning course. Prior to conducting your search for the best catalog eLearning course you should identify your learning or performance goals and objectives. Which skills do your learners need to develop? What key pieces of information do they need to take away from the eLearning experience? Formulate a list of learning objectives, goals, and desired outcomes, so that you can find the vendor that is going to offer you an end result that doesn’t fall short of expectations. Discuss these with any potential providers to check if they have a ready-made eLearning course that meets your requirements or if they can accommodate any special requests that you may have in order to develop a custom one. This will also give you an opportunity to get a more accurate quote, as they will be aware of any and all elements you need to include in your custom eLearning course design.
  3. Understand the needs of your audience.
    This is particularly crucial; before you deliver any eLearning experience, whether customized or pre-built, you must know your eLearning audience. If not, you cannot be sure whether the decision you are making is right or not. Analyze your audience by taking into account their ages, their backgrounds, their learning needs, their learning abilities, and their attitudes toward eLearning. Find out as much as possible about their background, expectations and how much they already know about the subject matter. By doing so, you have the chance to choose an eLearning course that meets their needs, without being redundant or too challenging. Furthermore, you should not just assume that every member of your audience is tech-savvy or net-savvy. Learners have their own technical requirements or limitations, as well as their own learning preferences. Determine if it has the features and activities your learners need. If there is a confusing mixture of different preferences, needs and prerequisites, you will need to make sure that either you decide to develop a custom eLearning course or to choose a ready-made eLearning course from catalog, all of your learners will be able to relate to it and to acquire the knowledge you are offering them.  While some catalog eLearning courses are solely content-based, others may include an abundance of interactive eLements. When assigning the development of a custom eLearning course or choosing the ideal eLearning course from a catalog, you will need to decide which features it must have and what specific eLearning activities you think might best suit your audience. Would they benefit from an eLearning course that includes a wide range of branching scenarios and simulations, or should you opt for an eLearning course that contains more text and visual presentations? Participate in the online course yourself to see if the layout and instructional design is in-line with your goals, and to determine if its individual components are suitable for all members of your audience.
  4. Choose eLearning courses that are effective. 
    No matter what your decision, both custom and catalog eLearning courses must be effective, and thus, they must offer your audience an immersive and impactful eLearning experience. But what does “effective” mean? It goes without saying: engaging, meaningful, memorable, and motivating. Whether you choose a custom or a catalog eLearning course, you need to make sure that it engages your learners by making them feel they can relate to it and that their learning has practical application in real life; after all, it is quite difficult for one to be interested in something that is not relevant to their personal or professional lives. Furthermore, whatever type of eLearning course you choose, it must be designed to help your audience to retain the knowledge you are offering; otherwise, the entire eLearning experience will be useless. Finally, it needs to motivate them to learn, develop their skill sets, modify their behaviors, or improve their performance. Having these factors in mind when deciding whether to choose between custom and catalog eLearning courses, the decision process will be much easier for you.
  5. Choose eLearning courses that are easy to use.
    Accessibility is a very important factor that you should take into consideration when choosing the right eLearning course, whether custom or catalog. In order for your learners to be able to participate in your eLearning course anytime and anywhere, it needs to be mobile and tablet friendly. The easier it is for your audience to access your online course, the more likely it is for them to engage in their eLearning experience. Furthermore, make sure that your eLearning course is concise, updated, it downloads quickly, and its navigation system is simple and functional; you don’t want your learners to waste their valuable time trying to figure out how to navigate within your eLearning course and platform.
  6. Choose the right eLearning course provider.
    Finding the eLearning provider to develop or help you to select from catalog the ideal eLearning course for your audience does not have to involve costly trial-and-error. Whether you choose a custom or a catalog eLearning course, have a close look at what your provider is able to offer you. Do they have a reputation for handling customer concerns promptly and professionally? Do they have a reliable customer support system? Can you immediately find them if a problem occurs? Ask about the support services they provide, as well as whether such services are included in their fee or additional costs are involved. In addition, check the list of vendors available and take advice from other customers who have used their eLearning products, whether customized or off the shelf and research each vendor’s experience and qualifications. Interview providers on your short list and look for online reviews from past clients to gauge their experience levels. This can help you to determine if they have the specific qualifications you are looking for, as well as, if they have worked on similar eLearning projects in the past. Take a look at their eLearning portfolio and ask if they have online examples they can show you. If you believe that the vendor has the necessary skills or experience to take on your project, you may want to request that they design a sample of the eLearning course, or a thorough outline and layout that gives you a clear indication of what they have in mind for your custom online course. Last but not least, feel free to ask for references from those who can share their experiences having worked with the provider in the past. Focus only on the top rated solutions and read carefully any shared experiences, appraisals, critiques, complains or comments, so that you can get a complete picture of whether a specific provider is a valuable and reliable option for your organization. This way, you will be able to get an insight of your providers' available options and thus make a well informed decision.

Now that you know what to look for when you choose custom and catalog eLearning courses, you may be interested in learning how you can use them to impact as more online learners as possible. Read the article 6 Tips To Design eLearning Courses That Appeal To A Wider eLearning Audience and find out how you can further expand your eLearning market reach.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.