To begin bluntly, custom eLearning solutions have never been seen as ‘inexpensive’ on first look. Once a detailed assessment of current training costs has been performed, and the initial sticker shock of the projected eLearning alternatives has been digested, then perhaps such solutions seem a bit more palatable.
It can be a difficult sale to make. Even if program sponsors are motivated and have come seeking eLearning solutions, there’s often someone else holding the proverbial purse strings that has a real hard time opening that purse as wide as it may need to go. We discuss this in much more detail in our "Making The Jump Into E-Learning" whitepaper.
Now, that’s not to imply ALL eLearning solutions need be unreasonably expensive; such courseware can certainly be delivered at a reasonable budget…but some tradeoffs may result, such as no narration, or more reliance on stock images than custom, or fewer interactive components, or simple two-step animation where a fully automated simulation would be oh-so much more impactful.
One step that’s often negotiated away, unfortunately, is the Instructional Design process. ID is often scrubbed with the idea that the sponsor knows ‘all that stuff already’, or perhaps it’s not discussed as part of the project at all. Such dismissive attitudes toward the ID process are unfortunate and often (though not exclusively) result in less-than-ideal eLearning courseware.
There have been several discussions in the blogosphere on the importance of Instructional Design. The various opinions, pundits, professionals, and visionaries may not agree on how much, how little, or anything in between….but all agree it should be at least considered.
As with most any process, cost is simply a significant aspect of eLearning development. But just as building a house without a blueprint would seem…risky, so too is courseware development without at least a perfunctory examination of the objectives and structure. Consider also, solid Instructional Design can only help the overall value and efficacy of the eLearning project. Costs must always be considered…but in the next part of this subject, we will show how the value can be quantified and help justify the investment.