Elearning to Disagree

Elearning to Disagree

Minimizing cost when looking to implement online training for your employees may at first sound like a good concept.  There are many groups out there who have a tendency to think the same way.  However, one very important factor that any prospective buyer would do well to keep in mind is that like most products of any kind, cheaper is very rarely better.

I recently finished reading an article published by the eLearning Guild entitled 75 Tips to Reduce eLearning Costs.  In it are detailed numerous methods that you and your company can employ to reduce expenditures when shopping for eLearning.  Upon completion, I felt it necessary to post a respectful rebuttal.

While many of the suggestions in the paper posed legitimate approaches to cost cutting, a few were off target.  Although they may at first appear to be sound practices, they are in fact methods that will quickly lead you down the path to poor quality eLearning.  As is well known by now, cheaply designed eLearning tends to underperform and fail to interest or engage your employees in the course content.  Let us examine a few of these misleading items.

Assume a bargain-only mindset at the start of all course development.

There is no argument in business that would beleaguer a “cost-savings” perspective.  We are always looking for the best product available at the most reasonable price.  However,  if you are seeking online training for your employees that will legitimately engage them in the learning process and subsequently drive knowledge retention and employee performance improvement, then starting off the hunt by maintaining a bargain-basement mentality may indeed limit your opportunities for successful training.

Use PowerPoint as your development tool.

This is another piece of straight-up bad advice for anyone who wants their eLearning to perform at a reasonable level.  PowerPoint is an obsolete and ineffective method of training.  It may be inexpensive, but learners find it dry and boring.

Between extended, boring videos, dreary “text-and-next” reading and PowerPoint-only training, you will find that your employees fail to engage with the course material.  This results in poor knowledge retention and failure in performance improvement.  They most likely audited the course – moving through the material a fast as possible – or skipped the information completely. This technique will not pique the interest of your employees and course effectiveness will suffer.  People do not kill employee engagement.  Powerpoint bullets do.  (For further reading, check out our “Powerpoint” blog at Vantagepath.com.

Buy Prefabricated, don’t build.

This is indeed a prime way to ensure that you receive the cheapest product out there.  Buying pre-designed online training has been standard practice going on many years back.  The rub is that most companies who invested in this form of eLearning are consistently disappointed with its results.

Because off-the-shelf training is a prefabricated product, its courses tend to address general issues.  Some may apply to your learners and some may not.  In any case, when people determine that they are participating in training that is not really relatable to their situation, they will most likely cease to participate.  Custom built eLearning programs however, are tailored to address the specific needs of your employees.  By involving interactive features such as scenario role-play and gamification, you will witness a compound improvement in employee performance.  Going this route is indeed more expensive.  And it is also measurably more effective.

Let’s use a car-buying analogy.  Of course everyone starts off with a budget that they must adhere to.  The trouble  arises when you only shop for the absolutely cheapest vehicle you can find.  In the end, you may have saved money by purchasing a ten year old clunker that has been driven to hell and back, but how long do you think it will take for the tired girl to start nickle and diming you to death with problems like poor gas mileage, fluid leaks and mechanical breakdown?

Cheaply designed, poorly built online learning will prove to do the same thing.  It may come as a surprise to many, that when asked, employees who have taken generic training have described it as anywhere from “boring” to “a total joke.”  Even when testing at the end is required to pass the course, they have admitted to widespread cheating that was easier than the training itself.

Cost-saving tips that invite you to cheap out on effective learning methods such as ones that promote employee engagement are in reality, not a saving at all.  They are however guaranteed to end up as a cost.  What you “save” upfront with cheaply designed, non-specific eLearning, will end up costing you far more than just money in the months and years to come.

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