Did you know that over 90% of students prefer e-learning than traditional learning?

The high demand for online learning has stirred a dilemma for course providers. Is it prudent to purchase standard e-learning courses, or is it more cost-effective to develop courses from scratch?

Off-the-shelf, catalog, pre-packaged—they all mean the same for standardized learning.

Let’s take a good look at how custom e-learning and standard e-learning differ in certain aspects.

Custom e-learning

Created from scratch, custom e-learning contains specialized content tailored to your organization’s circumstances and needs. Since it is customized and unique, you won’t find the exact same content—or even a fraction thereof—elsewhere.

Custom e-learning is for you if, the learning needs are unique.

Every organization is a unique structure of its own. Every student is a unique learner, and every academic institution offers its own special programs aligned to their internal goals. There are certain problems that cannot just be solved by off-the-shelf solutions.

In the academic context, e-learning is most often customized to cater to the learning needs and preferences of students.

In the corporate context, custom e-learning may not be used entirely since standard e-learning is also widely used depending on the circumstances.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) end-user training is one example that standard e-learning cannot absolutely accommodate. ERP is entirely based on the internal structure and processes of an organization.

Once a vendor completes your ERP software, you will find that the content is aligned with your organization’s needs—something that an off-the-shelf course cannot possibly satisfy.

The same is true for needs that involve the organization’s background, structure, vision-mission, safety and security rules, and standard operating procedures. Although such courses can be repeatedly used and shared, you can’t get these pre-made at the outset.

The content always changes.

In as much as needs can be unique, it can also change from time to time.

This is most often applied to company training. From policy changes, product modification to service improvement—your training course should take such changes into account.

The courses must reflect your brand or name.

How would it look like if all your resources and materials bore the company’s logo?

This is an effective strategy to mirror your organizations’ internal processes through your brand. This is a more professional approach to training that gives an ‘exclusive’ feel in all your corporate dealings.

This is one of the best things about custom e-learning. Your logo can be watermarked in every slide, page, photo, and video. Integrating your brand into the content of your course also reinforces your company’s values. This also sets a realistic background that helps the users establish a deeper connection with your company.

Further, custom e-learning is best for:

  • Product training
  • Systems training
  • Employee orientation

Custom e-learning offers the following benefits:

  • You own the source files. Any future change can be applied easily.
  • You pay only once for a customized course.
  • You have control over your training.
  • You get more flexibility in delivering the course.

Standard e-learning

Standard e-learning is easy, affordable, and ready-to-use.

It meets the common requirements of a certain organization. The content is generic and will most often require no input from you. It can be used immediately after you purchase it.

Standard e-learning is for you if the content is broad.

Most off-the-shelf e-learning courses are created by subject matter experts (SMEs). Many of these third-party content providers produce content in generic topics that are marketed in many online learning platforms such as Udemy, LinkedIn, SkillShare, Coursera, and many more.

Such platforms offer hundreds of thousands of off-the-shelf content available for millions of users.

If you’re training employees on using Google Suite apps, handling customer complaints, or sharpening decision-making skills—then you’re better off with standard e-learning courses to do the job.

The training has to be done ASAP.

When training is urgent, you can always count on standard e-learning to beat the deadline.

Custom e-learning takes up to 2 weeks to develop a 30-minute-long course. This can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the content and the preferences of the organization.

Since standard e-learning is readily available, you can purchase it online, and use it almost immediately. You can share the course with your users in less than a day.

The budget is limited.

Training costs can be very expensive, but the great thing about e-learning is that it is very cost-effective.

While custom e-learning is definitely more expensive due to its personalized approach to training, standard e-learning is the next best alternative if your budget is particularly tight.

Ordering an off-the-shelf course already comes with deployment and maintenance as part of the provider’s services. This makes it even more helpful for companies with very low training budgets.

Further, standard e-learning is best for:

  • Team building
  • Compliance training
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Training SMEs

Standard e-learning offers the following benefits:

  • It is cheaper than custom e-learning.
  • It is readily available from different sources or providers.
  • It is user-friendly.
  • It can be quickly installed.

It is not uncommon, however, for an organization to use just one kind. As previously mentioned, needs change all the time.

Strictly regulated industries such as those in medicine, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and manufacturing often prefer recommended off-the-shelf courses to ensure they receive the same quality and quantity of information. On another note, they also use custom e-learning in training new hires and revisiting company policies.

Although custom e-learning is undeniably more expensive, new authoring tools such as Adapt, Gomo, and Elucidat are making it possible for organizations to create their own custom content. This may be one factor that you may have to consider if you’re planning to use e-learning in training your employees.

For instance, you can share standard courses to your employees on how to use Microsoft Office tools effectively. You can further provide custom e-learning on how to use your company’s office management system.

Vendors may offer off-the-shelf content only, provide custom courses alone—or even do both. The options are so vast.

Revisiting your company’s needs and circumstances, what will be your choice?