LMS cost comparison and benefits between eLearning and classroom


eLearning vs Classroom: LMS Cost Comparison and Benefits

December 20, 2019 | 5 Min Read

The Pro’s Guide To Managing LMS Costs: How To Make Cost-Saving eLearning Decisions

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Despite the considerable praise earned by eLearning and Learning Management Systems, nobody denies the important place traditional classroom teaching has in many contexts. When educators need extended face-to-face time with a small number of learners, little matches the classroom setting as a way of encouraging engagement and attainment.

However, eLearning has gained a sizeable reputation over recent years as a platform that offers the ultimate compromise between quality content and cost-efficiency. The cost of eLearning reduces significantly as the scale of training increases, meaning that, for many organizations, eLearning is the only way to offer high-quality content at a reasonable price.

This post looks at the benefits for educators and learners and compares the costs of LMS and face-to-face learning.


eLearning vs Classroom - Teaching Advantages

Before considering how eLearning costs compare to the classroom, it’s worth considering how eLearning and classroom models differ in the experience they offer educators and learners.



  • Remote learning - The most obvious advantage available to LMS users is the ability to conduct teaching and learning from anywhere with a stable internet connection. This opens up learning opportunities to a large demographic of employees or potential students, who may be unable to attend at a specific time or location.
  • Analytics - A major advantage of eLearning vs classroom teaching is the data-driven insights into learner progress available to educators. By tracking all aspects of users as they interact with course content, educators can tailor and optimize the learning experience.
  • Blended learning - Even when organizations move their training online, many retain an element of classroom-based instruction. A blended learning teaching strategy combines the advantages of online and classroom instruction, providing the ultimate learning experience.
  • Face-to-face learning - While eLearning has the advantage in terms of accessibility and flexibility, classroom educators can develop learning relationships based on social and personal information only available in a face-to-face setting. This can be particularly useful when learners have difficulty with technology use and may struggle to communicate their needs online.
  • Peer learning - Many educators who advocate for classroom teaching claim no other platform offers the same opportunity for valuable learner interactions, training small teams together to build better close working relationships. While this may be true, today’s LMS also offer a variety of peer-learning options, from discussion forums and messaging, to video chat.
  • Personal relationships - There’s no doubt that classroom settings cannot replicate the insights gained through learner analytics, but a face-to-face student-teacher relationship still allows trained educators to make judgements about learner progress. Such personal perspectives are of considerable value, especially when combined with an analytics profile.

Related article: What's the difference between blended learning and flipped classrooms? 


eLearning vs Classroom - Costs

Although both teaching models offer differing advantages for educators and learners, an LMS cost comparison reveals the striking difference between the investment required for eLearning and classroom training.



  • LMS implementation - The costs of LMS implementation (including LMS hosting costs) are likely to be significant during the initial stages of eLearning. The average annual cost for a hosted LMS system based on Totara Learn or Moodle LMS is around $20,000 to $30,000. However, A hosted LMS will accommodate a potentially unlimited number of learners, on an unlimited number of courses, making the long-term efficiency of eLearning attractive.
  • Instructional design - LMS costs also include the investment needed to produce quality online materials. Most companies maintain proprietary systems to develop their competency courses or contract with instructional developers. When paid for on this basis, a course can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, but once created, courses can be used by learners across locations, significantly reducing per-student learning fees.
  • Maintenance and support - Like any learning platform, the hosting costs of an LMS platform include a budget for support services, to ensure the smooth-running of course portfolios. Depending on the provider, external technical teams may be available as part of an LMS hosting package. Because of this, it’s important to consider the expertise available within organizations, and whether the benefit of unlimited and ongoing support, such as Lambda Solutions’ eXtreme Support Services, will increase the cost-efficiency of eLearning.
  • Employee numbers - Major costs of face-to-face training include how many trainees exist within an organization. Related to this is the extent to which learners require additions or renewals to their training, as well as staff turnover.
  • Logistics - The physical limitations of classroom teaching mean that logistics is an area where this model accumulates significant costs. This can be especially true if learners need to travel to a location. For example, if 100 people take two, two-day courses at $595 per person, the total base cost would be $119,000. But adding logistical expenses  raises this significantly:
    • If 50 people travel to attend with an average cost of $0.60/mile, and an average travel distance of 30 miles, the cost is $1,800.
    • If 25 of these 50 travellers require accommodation, at $130 per night, the cost is $6,500.
    • These minimal expenses increase the overall total to $127,300, which does not take into account other probable expenses such as air travel or food.
  • Resources and Infrastructure - Just because classroom learning does not require major IT investment, does not mean that support costs aren’t involved. The cost of administrative tasks, HR tracking, and renewal of materials to keep up with content and regulations, all contribute to the cost of classroom teaching.


Read our white paper - The Pro's Guide to ManagingLMS Costs: How To Make Cost-Saving eLearning Decisions (or download the white paper and read it later!) 


More resources related to LMS costs:

For more information about LMS hosting costs and LMS pricing plans, and how you can expand your training potential through eLearning, talk to Lambda Solutions’ online learning experts today.

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