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When and How to Save Money on e-Learning

By Bob Little / July 2010

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When and How to Save Money on e-Learning

July 8, 2010

Everyone wants value for money — even from their e-learning solutions. But getting value for money can be confused with merely trying to save money, which is far from being the same thing.

In recent years, for example, we've seen the rise in the use of rapid authoring tools to produce learning content in-house by subject matter experts, rather than outsourcing the process to specialist instructional designers.

Yet, says Matthew Lloyd, managing director of the e-learning solutions provider, Omniplex, "When you adopt this process purely to try to save money, you need to be wary of some issues."

Lloyd was speaking at a meeting in London of the eLearning Network (eLN), a non-profit U.K.-based organization run by the e-learning community for the e-learning community.

Here are some pointers for helping you get the most out of your e-learning tools.

1. Keep it simple. Keep the learning project simple. Just because you're saving money by producing learning materials in-house, don't be tempted to over-extend the project's remit.

2. Beware of hidden costs. For example, Moodle, an open-source learning-management system, costs little to install and run, but it comes with a boatload of associated maintenance costs.

3. Spend money on the right tool. It's still important to use the right tool for the job at hand, regardless of the cost.

4. Consider the longer-term consequences with tools. Don't use too cheap a tool and then get locked in to that tool so that you can't migrate to a more effective one.

5. Consider what ease-of-use really means. If it's not easy to find the resources you need once you start to use the tool or system, then that tool or system is no good for you.

6. Independence. Make sure you don't have to go back to the tool or system's suppliers every time you want to make changes to your configuration. Opt for high-quality rather than the cheapest option. And remember that enjoying good customer service from your tool or system supplier should not be a luxury!

7. Bad (learning) design will cost you. A bad design can cost you as much as (or even more than) good design. Eventually, learning materials produced using bad instructional design will cost much more than learning materials produced using good instructional design, even if the latter learning materials are, initially, costly.

8. Success is measured afterward. It's what happens after the learning intervention — however it is delivered — that is key to the success of any e-learning initiative. Designers and developers need to find ways to stimulate the brains of those who use the learning materials, if that project is to be successful.

Lloyd's summary proved popular with the eLN delegates, but as fellow speaker Cathy Moore of Indiana pointed out, people don't do what their employers want them to do because of four factors: knowledge, skills, motivation, and environment. Learning solutions can only affect the first two of these factors. If there are motivation and environment issues, then no amount of learning programs in isolation will help to resolve them.

About the Author
For more than 20 years, Bob Little has specialized in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning—especially e-learning—and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Contact Bob at [email protected].


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