E-learning is advertised as being the more cost-effective approach to training in today’s corporate world. It doesn’t require a conference room, people taken out of their daily schedules and sometimes asked to travel rather long distances (which also means paying for the trip and accommodation). Most importantly, the training content can be updated and uploaded in record time with very few resources.
But what if being more cost-effective is still not enough?
In today’s economy, learning and development budgets are under more scrutiny than ever before and even though there is consensus on the importance of training your employees, the jury is still out on what is a reasonable sum to invest in people who tend to change numerous jobs.
Luckily, it’s not hard to make e-learning on a budget. Here are some tips about how to go about it.
1. Conduct a thorough needs analysis
As in the classic tale of the woodcutter, making sure you have all the proper tools (in this case, all the important information) is key to doing a good job. Even if initially this kind of research was not budgeted on the expense sheet, it will ultimately save a few pennies.
Creating content that fits like a glove and is appropriate for several categories of employees means actually spending less for more.
This is mainly due to the fact that having well-aimed e-learning will reduce the need of the users to revisit the information or browse through many units in search for what they need to know. Conducting surveys and focus groups will also tell you what devices users prefer.
2. Start from the existing material
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and rewrite everything from scratch, keep in mind that you already have very valuable material at your fingertips. Manuals, marketing information, video demos and training outlines are a very good starting point.
E-learning is a game changer in what concerns the presentation method but the knowledge (apart from new studies or incredible advancements in cutting-edge fields) is the same. By converting and customizing the already existing learning content the designers, content developers and SMEs will have to put in a lot less hours, thus generating quite a few savings for the company.
3. Only keep what’s essential
If you are starting with classic classroom material, it’s obvious you will have a lot of it. Who has ever heard of a short manual? Even the one I got for my coffee maker is over twenty pages long.
E-learning is so popular because of the ability to keep it short and to the point. Microlearning is the go-to method these days because it gives morsels of concentrated information in a timely manner. The professional way to go about it is to discuss with your SME and see what parts of the content are essential so you can build around those.
Stating clear learning objectives and lining up assessments to match those objectives is the key to developing very effective and precise online training material.
4. Use in-house talent and expertise
Involving in-house SMEs will ensure that the right expertise is being passed along. But there are more employees that can come in handy, reduce the necessary budget and feel more engaged in the whole process.
Instead of hiring audio narrators or voice over professionals you can reduce costs by holding some in-house castings and having regular employees perform those tasks. At one point, I was working for a major Telecom company whose robot voice belonged to a problem solving team-leader. She sounded delightful and you can bet she meant it when she said things like “we want you to be as satisfied as possible with our service”.
And the even better news is that you don’t need to rent a studio to have a great sound, there are quite a number of free audio editing tools available online for free.
5. Make sure your content is compatible with as many devices as possible
As I have mentioned in the first tip, it’s important to find out what are the favorite devices of your target audience. Setting about to develop separate e-learning courses for the different digital devices will obviously bring costs up.
However, if you opt for responsive design in creating the e-learning content you will ensure optimal viewing experiences upon a multitude of digital devices from smartphones to tablets, laptops and desktops.
Following these five tips will help you reduce the amount of money spent on creating quality, well-aimed e-learning content.
Roxana is a learning and development professional with over 10 years experience in corporate training.