e-Learning budgets: Doing more with less

Posted on : June 20th, 2013
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elearning budget managementMost corporations perceive learning to be an essential and ongoing process. Therefore, despite fluctuations of the economy and limited training budgets, companies are always on the lookout for sustainable learning solutions that can be created and delivered within limited means – of time as well as money.

There are many ways to achieve this:

Get the most out of SMEs

Create a foolproof plan of action before you start interactions with the subject matter experts (SMEs) to maximize utilization of time and money.

  • SMEs maybe experts in their own fields but they are not necessarily experts on communication or learning habits of the audience. Discuss the key messages and desired impact of the learning material at length to make sure that they are clear on the bigger picture and focused on learning.
  • Create learning content templates with suitable guidelines to help gather pertinent information out of SMEs. This can also reduce time and effort in e-Learning development. For instance, PowerPoint is a tool most SMEs are familiar with and content templates can be developed using this tool. With the help of rapid development tools like Articulate Storyline, a PPT can be easily converted to an e-module – reducing development time considerably

Use audio and video to create impactful learning

Contrary to popular belief, audio and video can be introduced in an e-course without creating a hole in training budgets.

  • Your SME can double up as your audio-voiceover artist. If that sounds too ambitious, the SME can at least provide the right script to begin with. You can ask the SME to create a rough-cut audio recording accompanying the content – all the while keeping it informal and simple. This rough-cut can then be transcribed and edited to create the final script for the audio-voiceover.
  • Instead of creating expensive and time consuming glitzy animations, keep it simple with everyday tools like MS Powerpoint. This will help you develop e-Learning on a shoestring budget. Effects like fade-outs and slide-transitions can be employed to increase visual appeal.
  • Create video recordings and podcasts in collaboration with the people within the organization – instead of making high-end productions with hired artistes and locations. Not only does this reduce costs, but it also impacts your audience better. For instance, a motivational video from the CEO or video massages from star performers within the organization can be included in your e-course to increase its appeal and encourage the learner.

Re-use content and learning material

Recycling is a good idea for the environment as well as for corporate learning!

  • A lot of material used for instructor-led classroom learning can be transformed into e-Learning. Rapid authoring tools can be successfully utilized to achieve this quickly. Though keep in mind that the content might have to be suitable tweaked to suit self-paced learning. Utilize additional resources like instructor notes to create the final e-content.
  • Recycle animations and graphics across multiple courses, with a little tweaking here and there. Recurring characters can be placed in similar courses to maintain the theme and make a sustained connection with the learner.
  • Create content that is suitable for multiple platforms – computers, handheld devices and mobiles, etc. This also increases the reach of the learning content and creates the opportunity to learn anytime and anywhere. A number of rapid authoring tools like Articulate Storyline and Lectora can be utilized for creating content that renders on multiple platforms – easily and fast.

Use free resources

There is a lot of free stuff out there, so take your time to choose the right one.

  • Learning communities like blogs and discussion boards are the hotbed of discussion about the latest technological and development tools. Utilize the experience of others to choose the right open-source tool for your requirements.
  • Many tools have a dedicated blog or community of users that can help first-time users and hand-hold them through developmental glitches.
  • If you are contemplating buying a developmental tool, choose the free trail versions before investing in it. Encourage the team involved in e-Learning development to start using it and check the practical aspects.

Harness social media

Social media can be a great learning tool and using it judiciously can hasten the learning curve of your learners – while on a shoe-string budget.

  • Most popular social sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are free for access. In addition to the learning content, learners can be encouraged to interact on various social media sites to gain from the perspective of other learners.
  • Online meeting tools also have the option of recording audio or audio-video meetings. Collaborations within SMEs, managers or even learners can be recorded – providing a rich base-content source that can be suitably converted into e-learning content.

Use off-the shelf courses

Identifying the need for customized content and limiting it as much as possible can be a way around tight time schedules and limited budgets.

  • Custom content takes considerable time and moneys to be developed and disseminated. If the course content is not organization-specific, choose off-the-shelf e-courses to quickly cater to the learning needs of your learners.
  • There is no dearth of off-the-shelf content in the learning industry. Choose the one that comes well recommended and is aligned to the available hardware/software technologies at the user-end.

Choose the appropriate service modality with external consultants

A lot of e-Learning development is outsourced to external consultants. Hence, choosing the appropriate service modality is the first step to budget efficacy.

  • If you are clear your needs – both explicit and implied – and are able to express it well to the external consultants, then you can choose a fixed-cost modality that will keep in mind the tripartite parameters of delivery – time, quality and outcome.
  • If you anticipate changing requirements and shifting priorities within your training structure, then best choose a ‘Time and Material’ modality. Working with a rate-contract, where time and effort costing is standardized, this type of service modality will help you keep up with your changing your training needs – as and when they arise.

With evolving technology and development tools, e-Learning is the answer to the training and learning needs in the corporate sector. The possibilities of e-Learning are limitless even when time and money are limited. We have cited only a few of the many possibilities that can be explored. To know more, write to [email protected].

References:

  • http://www.impactinstruction.com/learning/enhancing-your-e-learning-visual-design-on-a-budget/,
  • http://www.elearningreadiness.org/info_34.html, The eLearning Guild’s 65 Tips for Getting the Most out of your ELearning Budget.

Arunima Majumdar

Arunima is the Marketing Head at G-Cube. She loves exploring and blogging about innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector.

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