Now that most of the world operates in the cloud, e-learning is a concept that seems too good to be true on the surface:
It’s highly manageable without comprehensive existing knowledge
It’s convenient for your employees and doesn’t require them to leave their work environment
It reduces disruption and limits productivity loss
It’s entirely mobile
It’s adaptable to your distinct requirements
How can e-learning be such an effective learning tool on so many fronts and not break the budget? The LMS market is a wide and complex field. The industry is quite mature. So what are the hidden costs of implementing and managing e-learning in the workplace?
Let’s start with the big one: up-front costs for your company.
In general, implementing e-learning for the first time could include some hefty start-up costs. A new system requires — somewhat ironically — training to understand and utilize. You’ll need to integrate your new online training system with other applications and software that are imperative to your organization — not all e-learning providers offer this as a standard.
Just five years ago, e-learning was one of the more expensive options available for corporate training. E-learning was considered a boutique solution only available to companies with surplus budget or large remote workforces. Some larger custom e-learning solutions cost $500,000 or more just for the platform itself.
Sourcing and Funding Relevant Experts and Authors
If your organization isn’t currently able to produce e-learning content in-house due to available resource restrictions, you will need to source this content externally. There are a number of different options available to you in doing so, but all involve significant costs.
Whether you work with your e-learning provider for the actual content production, source your own experts to write the content for you, or pay for advice that one of your employees can convert into content, you’ll be surprised at just how much goes into the production of e-learning content. For example, you can make your content a whole lot more digestible if you fund the production of an audio transcription to accompany the text; that also requires resources too.
E-learning has so many benefits that it could — providing it fits the nature of your business offering sufficiently — become the sole training and development platform for your workforce.
However, e-learning — like most technology — is of course vulnerable to technical issues, which means that the maintenance of your online learning solution is absolutely critical.
Paying to have somebody on hand — who is kept fully up to date with all the necessary training on how to operate the latest version of your e-learning software — is quite obviously a burden. Service providers can help with this issue (we provide a dedicated support person), but ultimately there will be costs involved either way if you experience technical difficulties with your organization’s training technology.
Keep Engagement High
How do you know if your training is effective? Maybe it’s boring, maybe it’s too long, and maybe it’s confusing. One piece of the puzzle that is a must is engagement monitoring. Many LMS platforms have built in quizzing, and that is an important aspect of your training landscape. The best way to know if training is effective is simply by asking your trainees.
There’s only one platform that can consistently monitor employee engagement and give you actionable results: TINYpulse. It just so happens it will be one of the lower costs in your online training program, and it can be used company-wide.
E-learning will soon enough be entirely manageable in-house, but make the sensible decision and invest in some on-the-job training on how to use it first. Before long, you won’t need to invest in other, more expensive and impractical training methods – but don’t waste your finances on pride; learn to understand how to get the most out of your new e-learning software from the experts before developing your L&D strategy in full.
Trial and Error
When you get it right, e-learning is highly scalable and will promote a culture of learning. The results you’ll see from e-learning or a blended learning approach can be almost unrivalled; however there is a degree of trial and error required (which will cost resources and requires careful planning to ensure refinement) to create an optimal training program for your workforce which has both of these qualities:
Consistently delivers desired learning outcomes
Achieves the maximum potential ROI for that particular program
Whilst e-learning is capable of being used as a solution to reactive training requirements, for most other types of training needs you’ll enjoy greater benefits from following the ideology I just outlined. Unfortunately, trial and error has always been a business strategy that involves risk and potential lost resources – think long term and these initial costs will soon be outweighed by your staff’s incredible knowledge base.
Don’t Forget About Design (or UX)
The content of your e-learning is perhaps the most important aspect – if you get that wrong, your employees will:
Misunderstand the knowledge you are imparting on them
Complete their training with inaccurate knowledge
Fail to achieve desired learning outcomes
Companies like our friends at e-learning Brothers are experts at affordable custom e-learning content and e-learning templates. The delivery of your content holds considerable importance — the design and UX (user experience) of your e-learning are massively influential factors on your employees understanding of your content. Paying careful attention to these elements of the training will cost resources; it’s money well spent.
Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
Mindflash is an agile development shop. A term that is used in the agile development vernacular is iteration. The quick and dirty definition of this term is: once something is done, look at it, find ways to make it better, then deploy it again. This concept is one that should be used with your e-learning content as well. It might be costly to allocate resources to monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of your training, but the improvements you will make because of it will be well worthwhile.
As you may have guessed while reading this: many of the hidden costs of e-learning are in fact essential requirements in activating the benefits of this type of learning.
Invest wisely, and you will see the return — that may sound like an overused mantra, but as I’ve expressed throughout, e-learning is a long-term asset of potentially immense value to your business. Continually nurture it to reap the benefits and gain an advantage over your competitors.
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