3 things that make eLearning unnecessarily expensive

By February 8, 2022February 9th, 2022eLearning, eLearning Development

How much money needs to be spent is and always will be a critical factor in determining whether a project goes well or not.

Here are a few things that can make costs skyrocket – and how to avoid them!

Let’s agree on one thing: eLearning doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Things we consider essential for the success of a project, such as meaningful interactivity and learner engagement, shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

So why do they often seem to cost exactly that? We argue that costs are inflated by a general lack of direction. 

1. Trying to impress rather than teach 

A few years ago, a client insisted that all visuals created for their eLearning should be literal works of art. They were unsatisfied with 2D illustration, even though it illustrated the learning content perfectly. They kept looking for ways to afford the unaffordable – detailed 3D locations and character models. As it was clear that the learning objectives could easily be attained with simpler visuals, we wondered why they were hell-bent on using a machine gun to kill a worm.

Then, we found out. There was a young C-level executive who didn’t have much experience in eLearning, and would be greenlighting the visuals. The understanding among his team was that the more impressive the visuals, the higher the chances that he would approve the project.  

There are so many things wrong here. First of all, a decision maker and budget owner wasn’t present in the early project discussions. The project team were setting specifications based on assumptions rather than a strategy that had been decided with the budget owner. And, of course, they were trying to impress. But eLearning has to teach. Unfortunately, project costs went through the roof, and it was abandoned after a few months – and after a few thousand dollars had gone down the drain. 

2. Biting off more than you can chew

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Often, there is a noble vision that drives an eLearning project, supported by everyone who should support it, and even planned out in great detail. Often, the project brief is several hundred pages long, fleshing out the details of an eLearning initiative with hundreds of hours of seat time.

However, this kind of magnitude is manageable only by organizations that have done this before, not ones that are used to deploying a few hours of new eLearning every year. If your company falls in the latter category, curb your enthusiasm and opt for developing in manageable batches. Don’t try to do everything at once, or the project management costs will go through the roof.  

And if a vendor comes along trying to convince you that they will guide the instructional design, development, and management processes with ‘minimal involvement’ from you and your stakeholders, please make sure to get a detailed explanation from them on exactly how they plan to do that.  

3. Poorly defined workflows 

When your eLearning vendor sends you one hour of eLearning for your review, exactly who is going to review it, and when? And how many rounds of feedback do you intend to give? Who in your organization is responsible for giving the all-clear to a deliverable? Most importantly, were they part of the initial project discussion and have they read the design documents so that they know what to expect? What are the agreed criteria for acceptance, and is there a check-list for reviewers to go through when reviewing a deliverable? Did you make sure that a working prototype was developed first, so that feedback can be given by stakeholders and learners? Is everyone in your organization aware of their role in the project, and have they explicitly agreed to put in the time as per the agreed schedule? 

If any of the above lacks clarity, please work on it before the project starts. Poor workflows cause endless back-and-forth, which inevitably leads to hugely increased costs. 

The above and much, much more, is covered in eLearning Done Right – our one-day seminar with a live instructor. It helps you and your team design, implement and evaluate successful eLearning initiatives! 

Of course, you can always have a casual chat with one of our eLearning designers! Get in touch! 🙂

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