How Off-the-Shelf E-Learning Can Complement Custom Content
Many e-learning developers present your e-learning course choices as being binary. If the developer produces custom e-learning courses, they will advocate custom content. On the other hand, if the developer has a library of off-the-shelf e-learning courses for sale, they will promote standardised content.
The reality for most companies in the MENA region, however, is somewhere in the middle. This means having some e-learning courses produced specifically for your organisation in addition to off-the-shelf training content.
Focus on Return on Investment
Both off-the-shelf and custom e-learning content has benefits. Instead of focusing solely on the benefits, however, your focus should be on return on investment. In other words, achieving your training goals for the best possible price.
For some training topics, a customised e-learning course will be overkill. In other words, you will pay for something that you don’t really need.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are topics that need to be customised. They need customisation to ensure the course covers all the information you need to be covered. Customisation is also essential in some courses to ensure the training is engaging, interesting, and relevant, all of which are necessary to get the results you need.
Combination of Off-the-Shelf and Custom Content
So, the library of e-learning training courses in your organisation should include both customised courses and off-the-shelf training. This will ensure you get the right combination of:
- Relevancy and content that learners can relate to
- On-topic information
- Value for money
Providing you choose a professional e-learning developer for the customised content and a trusted source for the off-the-shelf content, your collection of training courses will achieve the maximum levels of knowledge retention and skills enhancement.
You will also achieve any other goals you have for your training programme including:
- Staff retention
- Improved business performance
- Lower accident rates
- Enhanced customer experience
- And more
With this approach, you’ll get the benefits of both off-the-shelf training and customised e-learning.
For off-the-shelf e-learning, this includes:
- Cost-effectiveness – off-the-shelf training is less costly than getting an equivalent course custom made.
- Tried and tested – most off-the-shelf training courses are continuously developed, with the developer making improvements based on data and feedback from customers. You’ll benefit from all these improvements.
For custom e-learning courses, the benefits include:
- Tailored information – customised courses will include the specific information you need. You can also tailor generic topics to your way of thinking or doing things. For example, project management is a relatively generic topic, but you might have specific policies or procedures that ensure your projects run properly. This is best communicated via a customised e-learning course.
- Relevant to the learner – one of the challenges with off-the-shelf courses is the fact learners can find them hard to relate to. You won’t have this problem with customised e-learning courses, however, as the content can be very specific to your organisation. In fact, you can even customise the content to individual business units, job roles, or levels of seniority.
Examples of Content that Can Be Off-the-Shelf
There are many examples of e-learning courses that can be just as good off-the-shelf as a custom developed course. They include:
- Some areas of compliance training
- Some HR topics such as equality and related topics
- Soft skills training such as communication skills, teamwork skills, and presentation skills
- Some health and safety topics
- Generic customer service training
- Training on common software and apps such as accounting software, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word
- Most cybersecurity training
Examples of Content that Should Be Custom Made
While most organisations will need training courses on most – if not all – of the topics above, there are some topics where off-the-shelf is either not possible or will be ineffective. A customised approach is necessary for these situations.
- Induction training
- Product training
- Company-specific customer service policies
- Sales training such as overcoming objections and improving sales pitches
- Health and safety training specific to your organisation, ways of working, or facilities
- Cybersecurity training on issues that specifically impact your organisation
- Key skills training
Extending the Concept Further
In many respects, the concept of having a combination of both off-the-shelf and customised e-learning courses doesn’t go far enough. This is because it assumes all your training can be delivered via e-learning.
E-learning offers considerable benefits over the main alternative of face-to-face training. However, there are some situations where face-to-face training is still effective. In these situations, a blended approach is often the best to take.
This involves having both an e-learning element and a face-to-face element on a particular topic area. So, you could have a face-to-face session that is complemented by e-learning modules, or the e-learning element can come before/after the face-to-face session.
The summary is, there is no one-size fits all solution. Therefore, you need an e-learning provider who understands this and will tailor a solution specific for your needs. At the very least, this will include customised and off-the-shelf elements and will probably include in-classroom training in the form of blended learning too.
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