Off The Shelf Vs Custom E-Learning: Which Should You Pick?

E-Learning is ubiquitous. It has revolutionised almost every industry today and the manner in which learners consume information has changed drastically since its inception. Today, the demand to roll out e-learning courses varies across all organisations and these requirements are considered to be extremely unique. For the same, e-learning content is designed in a manner that caters to the varying needs of all organisations. 

From a relatively straightforward training campaign to the one complying with the specific needs of your organisation, you need to pick the right one for your e-learning program. But, how to decide which one to choose between off the shelf and custom e-learning? As we understand this dilemma of yours, we have distinguished the two types of e-learning content available based on different parameters to help you make an informed decision. Read on and pick the most appropriate one for yourself.

Understanding the difference between the two

Off the shelf content or simply put, generic content is the one that can be accessed as and when desired. It is already prepared and organisations simply need to pick the one which they think best fits their requirements. In such a case, content providers need to put in minimal or almost no inputs into the course as it is generally ready made and can be used instantly upon purchase. This type of content offers limited or no flexibility in terms of content presentation. The maximum you can do is customise the course by adding the brand logo and colours to make it brand complaint. 

On the other hand, custom e-learning content, as the name suggests is the one that is tailor-made to suit the needs of individual circumstances, your organisation, or industry. A lot of time, efforts, and inputs are invested by the course providers so as to ensure the perfect delivery of such content. It allows immense flexibility in terms of presentation as you can use custom images, videos, text, and much more. 

When to use off the shelf content?

Off the shelf content should be your pick when you need to roll out courses on topics which are fairly universal like for example, like compliance training, product training, safety training, negotiation skills, effective customer handling, and others alike. It fills the underlying demand gap between the organisations’ needs and e-learning content. It is also the go-to option in case there’s an urgent requirement for these or any similar topics. 

When to use custom e-learning content?

On the contrary, custom e-learning content must be preferred in case courses specific to the organisation are to be created. It is the right solution for the times when you have a specialised approach towards a topic like for instance, you need to create a course focused on your own products, on-boarding about your organisation, its operations and other related information. 

Which of the two is more cost-effective and time-efficient?

Generally, it is the custom e-learning content which is more expensive of the two since it is created completely from scratch and involves a lot of efforts from subject matter experts, instructional designers, developers, etc. It is tailor-made to suit all your requirements so you can’t expect it to be inexpensive and it can take several weeks to create. However, with the new wave of authoring tools and custom e-learning providers, content production is no more tedious and has become relatively easier. 

Off the shelf e-learning content on the other hand, is relatively economical as it is ready made and can be accessed instantly after its purchase. But, you must also keep in mind that with off the shelf you are not able to customise any of the content available. Also, based on the course provider, you might have to buy a full catalogue of the content rather than just specific desired courses.

Which content type is best for which sector?

There is no specific categorisation as to which sector should opt for off the shelf or custom e-learning content type and organisations in all sectors make use of both the content types depending on their requirements. 

Generally, industries like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and life sciences are found churning out off the shelf e-learning courses as they find value in it since these courses provide the exact information which is provided by an SME. So, they find off the shelf to be their perfect solution. While off the shelf content is considered to be most effective for smaller organisations, larger organisations with big budgets are often seen creating custom e-learning courses which can be closely tailored to their needs. 

However, it is actually up to the organisation to choose as to which content type best suits their needs, fits their budget, and provides maximum value to their learners.

Now that you’re clear which content type works best in what scenario, weigh all the pros and cons of each one wisely and choose the most suitable one for yourself!