You know the value of training – you wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. You know that training your team is the way to significantly increase retention and build quality and reputation at the same time. You’re probably ready to at least begin considering using online learning as an adjunct to your current training program. Maybe you’ve even taken the plunge and signed on with an e-learning provider.
Whether you’re new to e-learning or just thinking about giving it a try, you can maximize the benefits by understanding a little more how to make e-learning truly yours. After all, you can’t really utilize the benefits of e-learning to help make your company more competitive if you’re just using off-the-shelf courses that your competitors use as well.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share with you a few of the key concepts in making e-learning truly effective in helping you build a team that stands above the rest. While we’re at it, we’ll look at some of the terms and concepts involved in e-learning that may be new to you – they were all new to me when we first started out in this business several years ago.
Let’s start with the foundational structure of online or e-learning: the Learning Management System (LMS).
What’s an LMS and why should I care?
A Learning Management System (LMS) is different from a subscription you purchase from an e-learning company like aQuire. The LMS is the structure of the system; the courses are the content. The system should give you tools for quickly and easily managing employee enrollment, viewing grades and reports and even having special needs reporting features.
The aQuire Training Tracker module, for example, allows you to enter training received outside of the aQuire system into the reporting database so that you can, with one report, view all training completed by every employee, including conferences and inservices. You can set up exception reports that tell you who hasn’t completed required training, rather than having to pick through completed training lists to find those exceptions yourself. In short, a good LMS will give you the structure you need to manage the training and records of your whole team.
Having an LMS that you control allows you to build custom course content, too. With some programs, you’re simply subscribing to a set of pre-developed courses. With an LMS that you control, you can add your own courses using whatever development tools you wish – from simply PDF documents to flash-animated movies or games.
When you’re considering a new investment in e-learning – or looking for ways to make the investment you’ve already made pay off - look for a solution that allows you to have your own LMS, or at least your own LMS portal. You’ll gain a significant level of control of the training delivered to your team. And if you’re like most corporate execs I know, control of results is a very big deal.
How much should I expect to pay for e-learning?
If you’ve talked to anyone about developing a custom LMS for your company, you’ve probably heard cost estimates of upwards of $100,000 in development, and perhaps 50% of that on an annual support/hosting basis.
You may think that’s the best solution, especially if you want full control.
Here’s a secret: an LMS doesn’t have to be expensive. Open source LMS products are currently some of the best in the market, rivaling those used by corporate or university systems. You can have a custom LMS built, or license one that has been custom built, but you don’t have to do that to gain the same training advantage.
Here’s my advice: pay less for a basic supported LMS and a little bit more for your content. Think about what you want an online training system to do for you: give you the framework to deliver standard, high-quality, custom training and track every bit of training your employees have received in one simple report.
Beyond that, it’s all just bells and whistles. Where your investment really pays off, however, is in content. Your employees will never see the elegant reporting system or the easy-to-use enrollment portals. What they will see is content. They’ll need content that is engaging and effective.
What you need is a system that allows you to add your own custom content quickly and easily, and gives you the support you need to develop and add that content without costing you an arm and leg in tech support fees.
You may be able to negotiate the LMS into a deal for no cost at all, especially if you’re paying for content for many employees. If you do need to purchase your own LMS set up you should look for fees no greater than $2,000-3,000 on a one time basis.
Course content fees typically are based on the number of employees in your company and can range anywhere from $2 – 10 per person per month, depending on your size and the company you purchase courses from. Like with most products, you’ll pay a little more for courses with more features than for very basic courses that are designed to simply meet compliance requirements. Choose the product that best meets your needs for training. You know that investing in your team is worthwhile; don’t try to skimp when it comes to providing quality training.
Next week we’ll continue with a few more crucial questions and answers about e-learning to help you make the best decisions possible for your team. Better training builds better teams, and that benefits us all.
Friday, December 16, 2011
1 year ago