In a prior post I touched briefly on how e-learning tends to be, well, oversold. To follow up on this I wanted to review the relative costs associated with e-learning and compare to other technologies. With nearly one-third of training content being delivered electronically (according to ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report) it’s no wonder it is such an easy go to. While e-learning is often broken into four interactivity levels – Low Interactivity, Moderate Interactivity with Emulation, Intermediate Interaction with Simulation, and Advanced Interaction with Simulation, the vast majority of other options do offer a higher level of interactivity for the user when compared to traditional e-learning. Many organizations used to turn to e-learning options due to the lower cost of development when compared to other methods… well, high virtual world development costs are now a thing of the past.
Other learning methods, such as virtual worlds allow for strategic and analytical thinking, and let’s not forget about the authenticity of utilizing a real learning environment – i.e. mimicking a virtual world to the actual workplace environment. All of this equals the ability to master skills and practice in a safe yet challenging environment. Scenario-based learning and problem-solving scenarios are hot! While 99% of the time e-learning it’s not very engaging. Notice the figure below which shows a rating of 1.20 (Equaling to rarely or never) when survey participants were asked if e-learning programs were authentic, realistic and immersive much like Second Life. Obviously even the current users of e-learning agree it is just a run-of-the-mill type of training instrument that while it may decrease costs of live training it is by no means a 100% solution to training demanding workforces of today.
Money is always a barrier no matter what type of training method is being examined. One must consider the lifespan of the course- can additional content easily be added? Here are just a few of the relative questions you will be asked when developing training (and may influence the price):
• How will the training be delivered?
• Average seat time?
• Where will the source content come from?
• What learner/trainee tracking capabilities will be offered?
• Project timeline?
Some pricing is based per hour of training while other pricing strategies give you an all-in-one package price from start to delivery of the entire project. Some e-learning vendors also charge on a per screen basis, gee isn’t that special?! Let’s keep in mind e-learning technology and content can easily be outdated, can be cumbersome to add additional training content to and doesn’t show a high Return-On-Investment (ROI) when compared to other (and more advanced) training methods. So here’s to out with the old and in with the new. I say virtual worlds and other cutting-edge learning technologies will be becoming more mainstream in the near future mainly due to the cost savings that they offer as well as the higher level of interactivity that they offer the participant….and, perhaps most importantly, their proven ability to affect behavior in a predictable and desirable fashion!