While the word e-learning has been used quite a lot, many are still unaware of what it means and how it helps to achieve success in both personal and professional lives. E-learning is learning to utilize electronic devices to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. It refers to a course, program or learning material that is provided completely online.
E-learning proves to be extremely convenient and effective both for those who don’t have access to classroom learning, and those who want to further enhance their knowledge. Since, enabling people to grow, improve and achieve learning skills is the goal of e-learning, the cost of making such courses is also huge. Here we are going to discuss the hidden costs and ways of how to develop cost-effective e-learning courses.
Hidden costs behind e-learning courses
Developing an e-learning course is a creative and enriching experience. Since the goal is to let people grow, develop and achieve learning abilities, makers of online courses always attempt to provide the best material and facilities to the learners. In this process, whether developing highly interactive online sessions or simple learning courses, hidden costs can arise when one least expects them. So, while there are general categories of e-learning costs that should always be kept in mind while developing an online course, it’s also important to consider what lies beneath. These indirect e-learning costs are found hidden in the content, development and learning platform of the course. Such costs include:
The Costs of Making Mistakes – The hard truth is that if you’re new to e-learning, or even just starting a new online course, at first it usually involves a series of some trial and error. It surely helps in setting clear and realistic training objectives. However, the time it takes to learn from these mistakes, correct them, and deal from their impact may add to the potential costs of e-learning.
The Costs of Inexperience – Some of the most significant costs that add to the e-learning process are related to development, training skills and outsourcing. If the e-learning program lacks clarity and effectiveness, it will need skilled training. Training requires resources and time, thus adding to the cost of e-learning.
The Costs of Technology – Besides the initial signup and startup, sometimes the best features are paired with additional costs that are hidden in fine print. Costs of upgrades, authoring tools, storage and sometimes expert support are the types that become part of the development budget and add expenses to the e-learning process.
Costs of Creating Content – Although content creation is a natural cost of the e-learning process, its cost is often underestimated. Not only does the creation of content require time, but also expert knowledge from outside the business. Thus, sourcing experts from other industries to contribute their knowledge to content creation adds significant costs to the e-learning process.
Costs of maintenance – E-learning continually aims to develop convenient and effective training for learners. Learning material needs to be kept up to date and relevant to meet the needs of the learners and keep them interested. Also, maintaining technological facilities and expert assistance to improve the online experience, adds to the cost of maintenance.
Developing cost effective e-learning courses
According to a recent research, the cost of creating one hour of an online course content is about $10000 on average (Source : Chapman Alliance, 2017). Such statistics seem to be true when considering the fact, that without sufficient and effective resources and technology, an e-learning project cannot proceed. The E-learning process does not only require providing learning material to users, but also developing and maintaining effective technology and other facilities that add to the learning process. All this adds to the cost of the e-learning process. Hence, in such a condition it is highly essential to develop facilities that are cost effective. Here are tips how to develop cost effective e-learning courses :
Avoid redundant content – One of the most effective ways of managing e-learning costs is that of creating micro learning content. Creating bite sized learning content makes it very convenient for the learner to have access to only what is needed. Also, it cut downs the cost of creating full length learning tutorials. The main emphasis is to focus only on a specific task or topic and the essential information or basics that are required.
Library of resources – Producing your own e-learning narrations, tutorials, interactive videos and recordings can significantly cut down the e-learning costs. Instead of paying for a professional production, programs like Adobe Captivate and Camtasia can be used to record and capture whatever is on screen. Such technologies help in reducing the cost of hiring a professional unit that fulfills all these functions.
Templates and Themes – Instead of developing an e-learning course from the first crack, use e-learning templates and themes to cut down the developmental costs and time. Adding content, customizing features personally, integrates branding without the assistance of some professional unit. Also, creating a custom template is useful as it is adaptable to a number of e-learning courses, and new templates need not be made for every e-learning course.
Affordable authoring tools – High quality e-learning courses can be created in no time and effort with the help of rapid authoring tools. Many of such tools are free or low cost and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Lectora Online, Adobe Captivate 8 and Elucidat are some authoring tools that help design great e-learning experiences in a budget. Files and documents can be shared, and a record can be kept of important deadlines without any management unit.
Experienced e-learning experts – If one is new to the world of e-learning, it is preferable to hire an e-learning expert to maintain design and layout of the e-learning course. Instead of wasting money on layout and integration with the possibility of failure, it is better to hire an expert who is already familiar with the technique and tools of developing a good e-learning course in no time and effort.
As an e-learning professional, it is not apt to sacrifice quality and interaction due to a tight budget. It is possible to be efficient and create quality content, all in a budget. Cost effective e-learning courses are possible with a few simple tips and strategies that go a long way. In this sense, e-learning will continue being useful and effective for learners and at the same time cost effective and trouble-free for developers.