While many people know that elearning often costs less than the traditional instructor-led training event, it can sometimes come as a shock that elearning development costs can also fluctuate quite a bit.
Sure, the typical logistical expenses don’t apply to elearning, but there are other factors to that can drive up (or down) the price of elearning.
That’s not to say that elearning can cost more than live-training. Elearning (in most cases) will be your most cost efficient way to delivery training given that the content is a good fit for online instruction.
What Drives ELearning Costs?
There are a few factors that can drive the cost of your elearning project. Here are some of the major ones that impact the bottom line.
Graphics & Multimedia
If your elearning is going to be done correctly, it needs to have a professional presence. Since there is no instructor, the graphics and multimedia have to be what helps drive this image.
From low to high in complexity (and price), they could be as follows:
- Stock graphics and videos
- Graphic editing or enhancements
- Custom narration
- Custom graphics
- Video editing
- Animated graphics and videos
- Custom video production and 3D animation
The more interaction points your course has, the more expensive it will ultimately cost.
By way of example, content that is linear in nature with simple text based assessment is going to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum. This is in part because navigation is standard so typical elearning templates can be used.
If your training has a lot of decision points, then that means custom mapping must be created and this reduces the ability to re-use templates. Exercises that are “try-it” in nature also take more time to develop.
Finally, if your training is driven by scenarios with various conditional branching possibilities, the cost of your elearning development is going to be at the high-end of the spectrum. Courses at this level tend to have a large number of hands-on exercises, advanced navigation, custom pages, and conditional interactive components.
Instructional Design Time
The time spent designing the courses (from storyboard to final products) is a rather large factor in the overall cost of your elearning effort. If the content is already structured for elearning with well-vetted learning objectives, then the time is going to be rather short.
In the same respect, if the content is not yet structured and there are no storyboards already present, then time increases significantly, increasing the number of instructional design and subject matter expert hours required for adequate development.
The most time consuming (and therefore most costly) is when the content is highly specialized, course materials don’t exist in any form, and the content itself only exists in a subject matter experts head. Expect a lot of time spent in the planning phase – arguably the most important.
In the end…
Elearning costs can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. While starting your elearning development process, you need to make decisions on these areas up-front so as to avoid scope creep and budget issues later down the project timeline.