Types of eLearning Content

October 13, 2023

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In the dynamic landscape of eLearning, one of the critical decisions organizations face is choosing the right type of eLearning content. Whether you are a corporate entity, an educational institution, or a training provider, your choice between Off-the-Shelf, Do It Yourself (DIY), and Custom eLearning content significantly impacts the effectiveness of your training programs. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into these three main categories, exploring their pros, cons, and when to use each to make an informed decision for your specific training needs.

1. Off-the-Shelf Content


  • Ready-Made Convenience: Off-the-Shelf eLearning content, typically created by eLearning vendors, offers the advantage of convenience. It's readily available for purchase or licensing.
  • Cost-Effective Entry: These solutions are often more budget-friendly than custom development, making them accessible for organizations with budget constraints.
  • Time-Saving: Implementation is swift since the content is pre-built, requiring minimal development time.


  • Limited Customization: One of the most significant limitations of Off-the-Shelf content is the inability to tailor it to your organization's specific needs. It is a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Generic Nature: Such content may not precisely address the unique requirements of your organization, and learners might find it less engaging due to its generic nature.

When to Use Off-the-Shelf Content:

  • Off-the-Shelf content is a good fit when your training needs align closely with the available content, and customization is not a high priority.
  • It's beneficial for organizations seeking cost-effective and time-efficient training solutions, particularly for standardized or compliance-focused training.

2. DIY (Do It Yourself) Content


  • Ultimate Flexibility: DIY eLearning content allows you to create training materials in-house, ensuring that they are tailored to your organization's exact needs.
  • Cost Control: You have full control over the budget, as you manage the development process and resource allocation.
  • Ownership and Control: Creating content in-house gives you ownership of the content, enabling you to update and modify it as needed.


  • Resource-Intensive: While DIY content offers flexibility, it can be resource-intensive. You need skilled personnel, time, and the necessary eLearning development tools.
  • Quality Challenge: The quality of the content depends on the skills and expertise of your in-house team, which may result in variations in content quality.
  • Development Time: Content creation is often a time-consuming process, particularly if your team is not experienced in eLearning development.

When to Use DIY Content:

  • DIY content is an excellent choice when you require full control over the content and the flexibility to adapt it to your organization's unique needs.
  • It's suitable for organizations with dedicated eLearning teams or access to eLearning development expertise.

3. Custom Content


  • Tailored to Perfection: Custom eLearning content is designed from the ground up to meet your organization's specific needs. It aligns precisely with your training objectives.
  • Engagement and Motivation: Custom content allows for the creation of highly engaging and interactive materials, which can significantly boost learner motivation and knowledge retention.
  • Scalability and Adaptability: Custom content is easily adaptable as your organization evolves, ensuring that your training always aligns with your current goals.


  • Higher Costs: Custom content development is often more expensive than the other options, given that it is built from scratch.
  • Development Time: The creation and implementation of custom content can take longer, impacting the speed at which you can roll out training programs.
  • Maintenance: Custom content requires ongoing effort for updates, improvements, and compatibility with changing technology.

When to Use Custom Content:

  • Custom content is ideal when your training needs are highly specific, and off-the-shelf or DIY options fall short in meeting these requirements.
  • It's particularly useful for organizations that prioritize creating a unique and engaging learning experience, often found in complex or specialized training scenarios.

Choosing the Right Type: A Blend of Solutions

In practice, it's often not a matter of choosing one type of eLearning content over the others, but rather finding the right blend of solutions. For example, you might use Off-the-Shelf content for standard compliance training, while developing Custom content for specialized job-specific training. The key is to align your choice with your organization's objectives and the needs of your learners, ensuring that your training programs are effective, engaging, and purpose-driven.

This comprehensive guide should provide you with a clear understanding of the three main categories of eLearning content. With this knowledge, you can make an informed decision regarding the type of eLearning content that best suits your organization's unique training needs.

Sell, market, manage, and scale your eLearning all in one place with the brand new Lambda Suite!!

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