Organizations have many options when it comes to employee training. There are different formats available, catering to different learning styles. However, all training falls into one of two categories: off-the-shelf courses and custom eLearning.
Both have pros and cons that may work for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, either. What is important is finding a training solution that works best based on your budget and business needs.
Before reading LMS reviews at LMS.org, start by learning more about the difference between custom and off-the-shelf eLearning and the benefits of each.
What is Off-the-Shelf eLearning?
Off-the-shelf eLearning is sometimes referred to as “out of the box.” This type refers to a large category of online training options that are ready for purchase. They are already produced and can be immediately added to your training program.
This can include any type of online learning material, including:
- Streaming content
- Self-paced content
- Instructor-led training
- Social media content
Off-the-shelf learning may be offered by whoever produced it or sold on a third-party marketplace.
Most off-the-shelf eLearning will include an explanation of what it offers and who it is meant to train. Many common business topics are available in an off-the-shelf training product. Some may even cover job roles, business strategies, or key subjects like sales, productivity, and safety.
Some learning management systems give users access to a built-in online training marketplace or connect with one to make importing pre-made content easy.
What is Custom eLearning?
Custom eLearning is a little different because it isn’t a pre-made product designed for a broader audience. This type of online training is developed for an organization. It usually involves working with a firm or hiring the right people to do it for you internally.
When you make your own custom eLearning content or hire someone to do it for you, you get full control over what is covered. You can create unique training modules designed for specific job roles or business goals.
You also have input on accessibility and which platforms the content will support. The organization can also choose which types of eLearning content they would like used, whether it’s interactive videos, virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations, and more.
The Pros and Cons of Off-the-Shelf eLearning
Off-the-shelf eLearning is appealing because it is convenient and tends to cost less. Of course, you are not going to have as much of a say when it comes to what’s discussed in the content or what formats are used.
The pros of off-the-shelf eLearning are:
- It’s more affordable than paying someone to develop new custom content
- It is available for immediate use so you can add it to your training program right away
- You can review feedback before you buy so you know if the content is worth buying
- It allows organizations to build a content library much faster
- Multiple languages may be available for organizations that are global
That sounds appealing for organizations that need training solutions now. However, keep in mind that:
- Off-the-shelf learning will come with few or no customization options
- Unique or advanced topics may not be well covered by pre-made content
- It is usually designed for mass consumption so it may be simplified
- Off-the-shelf training may require purchasing licenses or time-restricted access
The Pros and Cons of Custom eLearning
Custom eLearning requires more resources and time. You should also be certain that you know what you need before you begin the content creation process. Reading 8 tips for building role-specific employee training can help you get started.
The pros of custom eLearning are:
- You get to choose what topics are covered and how they are presented
- You can easily brand content to match your organization or business goals
- Develop content that aligns with your business goals and corporate culture
- You can update content whenever you need to since you own it
Custom eLearning is appealing because it gives organizations the freedom to create something that 100% meets their needs. However, that freedom comes at a cost.
- Custom eLearning development often costs more up front
- More time is needed to create content before you can deploy it
- It will require more thought and resources to plan and develop
Which Type of eLearning Does Your Employee Training Program Need?
There is no single answer for everyone when asking which type of eLearning is best for your training program. You should consider whether you need the content right away and how much money you can invest in it. Consider the following before deciding which you need.
- Time Limitations
If you need courses for training classes right now, then off-the-shelf eLearning might be a better fit. You can browse, buy, and immediately start using it. It’s a good way to round out your training program. Organizations that have more time flexibility may prefer to wait for custom eLearning.
- Training Budget
Businesses with some breathing room in their training budget may consider spending more on custom content now to reap benefits later. They can add tailored courses to their training program to improve the learner experience.
Those that may not have as much left to spend on training can also be successful with off-the-shelf training. These 8 things you can do to lower your employee training costs can help you find more ways to save.
- Content Complexity
You should also consider whether you need custom content or if something mass-produced will do. If the topics you want to cover are common, then you may find many off-the-shelf eLearning products already available. If you are looking into more unique, complex, or advanced subjects, then something custom made might produce better results.
You should also check out LMS platforms that include authoring tools and easy importing. These can help you find more ways to grow your eLearning library and distribute content to the employees who need it.