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While the long-term financial benefits of eLearning are well established, the costs of developing an eLearning presence are more difficult to determine. From the upfront costs of installing and configuring a Learning Management System, to the ongoing cost of course creation and system maintenance, a well-researched L&D budget is key to a smoothly operating course catalogue.
The investment required to launch an eLearning faculty is not only contingent upon the size and internal structure of an organization, but the decisions an organization makes about hosting, LMS provider, eCommerce opportunities, and more. Take a look at this post for a rundown of three major development decisions that contribute to L&D costs for eLearning.
eLearning Development Cost #1: LMS Implementation
eLearning courses function at their best when delivered through an integrated, online management system. Installing an LMS improves the learning, teaching, and administrative experience by supplying users with an array of software and data that supplements and streamlines their work. To take advantage of these benefits, the first decision organizations new to eLearning need to make is whether to publish their content on a managed, cloud-hosted system, or a self-hosted LMS.
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Self-hosting an LMS means taking care of the technical aspects of your system internally or through a 3rd party host. Depending on the extent of technical expertise required, this can make for a substantial initial investment, as installation, set up, customization, and staff training costs begin to mount. Costs for launching through a cloud-hosted provider are likely to be significantly less, since your LMS will be ready to go and maintained by an external team. If you find a host that provides True Cloud Hosting, performance can be even better without a significant increase in costs.
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Once organizations have chosen the basic design of their LMS setup, the next development decision is whether to work with an open-source or proprietary-based provider. Proprietary and other forms of license-based LMS demand monthly, yearly, or one-off usage fees, and claim to offer superior levels of support services in return. By allowing LMS platforms to be freely distributed and developed, open-source LMS is free to access, and gives organizations a flexible and economically efficient framework.
Need a bit more info for choosing the most cost-effective Learning Management System? This blog should help: Open Source vs Proprietary LMS: How Do I Choose?
eLearning Development Cost #2: eLearning Course Development
For some organizations, eLearning provides the opportunity to monetize pre-existing content, while others will look to create courses specifically for their new teaching space. For these businesses, a key early decision is whether to create bespoke content or select an off-the-shelf training solution.
Off-the-shelf content has the benefit of being pre-designed and tested by eLearning experts, available for use at the point of need. Providers such as Open Sesame are compatible with Moodle LMS and offer over 20,000 courses, on topics applicable to a variety of training contexts. This means that, while off-the-shelf material might not always be an exact match for your needs, it’s likely that a relevant, tried and tested course already exists.
For organizations that need to deliver specialist or internal expertise, custom development is the most appropriate option. Depending upon the kinds of learning materials already created, instructional design for eLearning courses might include:
- the creation of graphics and multimedia
- custom narration
- content delivery methods that aid the communication of content in interactive ways
(for example, utilizing Gamification, Microlearning, and Mobile Learning strategies)
There are various levels of instructional design for eLearning, ranging from the relatively simple task of programming and uploading courses, through to the complete process of researching teaching objectives, planning and creating content, and publishing through your LMS.
eLearning Development Cost #3: Marketing Campaigns and SEO
In the later stages of course development, organizations need to begin thinking about outreach; how potential learners will come into contact with the course catalogue, and the sales funnel that turns interested parties to committed users.
See how you can expand your budget by driving revenue with eCommerce integrated directly with your LMS in this webinar: Enhancing your eLearning Marketing to Drive Growth.
Marketing decisions that relate to development costs include the scope of marketing strategy, as well as the development of marketing content. Some organizations hope to draw enrolment through free-trials and sample courses, while others rely on reviews and brand prestige. Whatever development decision is made, it’s important to create a campaign that shows how your online course stands out from similar competitors.
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Whether engaged in full custom development for a new learning pathway, or looking to bring pre-existing content into the online space, knowing how and when to invest in eLearning development costs can heighten the efficiency of your business. If these are the goals you need to achieve, our team of online learning experts would love to have a conversation with you about the best way to leverage eLearning within your organization.