Off-the-Shelf eLearning Courses

Off-the-Shelf eLearning Courses — Are They a Worthwhile Investment?

Off-the-Shelf eLearning courses are readymade and ready-to-purchase eLearning courses on a range of topics common to the training

Off-the-Shelf eLearning courses are readymade and ready-to-purchase eLearning courses on a range of topics common to the training needs of most organizations. Frequently purchased types are compliance, onboarding, software usage, employee best practices, and skill building courses.

Now, as an organization, is it really worth investing in off-the-shelf eLearning? And if it is, how much of your training content should be readymade vs. custom created?

The purpose of this article is to educate the future and current L&D, HR, and eLearning enthusiasts on basic eLearning practices that many get wrong and how to correct it.

Why do organizations invest in off-the-shelf eLearning courses?

Off-the-shelf courses are easy to purchase, they cost less, and more importantly, they require little to no planning when implementing. But therein lies a question—is an easy to implement eLearning course with minimal planning a good option to train your organization?

If saving costs and investing less in training and development—effort wise—is the agenda, sure, off-the-shelf courses make sense. But as L&D and HR professionals, is that what one should really aim for?

Sadly, off-recent, a surprising trend has gained momentum. HR and L&D professionals are actively reaching out to eLearning vendors showing an increased need for off-the-shelf courses. However, the lack of clarity with regard to the course they are looking for is something to worry about. The conversation starts with a request for a list of eLearning courses available, followed by an ad-hoc selection process.

This is definitely not the right approach to selecting an off-the-shelf course. Selecting off-the-shelf training must also be governed by a clearly defined need.

The few reasons to consider off-the-shelf courses are either because training budgets are low, the urgency to train is high, or the subject matter is very basic. The pressure of ‘showing’ or ‘providing’ top-level management with reports, rather, performing training activities for the sake of ‘just doing it’, cannot be a reason to select readymade courses.

Also, since when has the availability of readymade courses governed the type of training an employee receives?

When should you consider readymade/off-the-shelf course?

In all honesty, if training is being considered as a serious solution to organizational problems like attrition, profitability, productivity, and streamlining operations, off-the-shelf should not be the go-to option.

However, the few cases where off-the-shelf courses can be used are:

  • Shortage of training budgets
  • Urgency in training
  • Highly basic subject matter

And even then, when dealing with nominal training budgets, off-the-shelf training courses should only be considered once:

authoring tools, slide-based custom eLearning, PowerPoints, Word documents, and PDFs have all been ruled out. Then you can go ahead and purchase a readymade/off-the-shelf eLearning course.

Factors to consider when selecting an off-the-shelf/readymade eLearning vendor: 

  • The credibility of the vendor
  • The design of their modules
  • The relevance of the modules to your training needs
  • SCORM compliance, interactivity levels, interest quotient, and more.

 Basically, off-the-shelf eLearning courses are recommended as long as the topics in question are basic and common for most organizations. For complex, in-depth topics, always choose a custom training module.

Does that mean you should opt for off-the-shelf courses for your basic training?

Yes and No. As stated earlier, your organization and its needs seldom match the needs of others. Hence, no matter how simple your training is, it’s best to try and incorporate your organization’s essence into the courses. This could be through design, content, reference, or even branding.

However, if you’re looking for courses such as sexual harassment, anger management, or basics of Microsoft Excel—yes, you can go ahead and select an off-the-shelf course as such training is common for all organizations.

At eNyota, we help organizations create, deploy, and train employees using custom eLearning solutions designed to match the unique training needs of an organization. How do we do this? We take the time to understand your goals, based on which we create custom eLearning outlines designed to achieve your KPIs. If you’re interested in knowing more, reach out to us at or click here to fill this short form and we’d be more than happy to have a quick discussion with you!5 HR Challenges That eLearning Can Solve

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