Well-trained employees are essential to an organization’s success. Unfortunately, many small, budget-conscious organizations shy away from investing in eLearning (short for “electronic learning”) because of the costs associated with setting up a program. When financial, human, and training resources are in limited supply, it can seem impractical to invest in a new training system.
eLearning may be more affordable than you think, and it provides organizations with a number of measurable and intangible benefits. While some eLearning solutions are expensive, if you’re willing to get creative and think outside the box, there are plenty of options for budget-minded organizations.
Establish a Training Budget
According to the 2020 Training Industry Report, the average company in the United States spent $1,111 per employee on training costs in 2020. While budgets vary based on specific training needs, allocating 1–5% of the company’s total payroll to employee training costs is considered standard.
Before making a budget, first assess your organization’s training needs. Which skill deficits are affecting performance and productivity? By focusing on the actual needs of the company and its employees, you can make the most of your training budget. Once you’ve calculated the cumulative training expenses, you can consider ways to maximize your cost efficiency.
Leverage User-Generated Content
Even if you don’t call it “training,” knowledge transfer happens daily in an organization. For example, an employee asks a manager or co-worker for help with accomplishing a task and receives an answer. The employee documents the answer for future reference, creating a successful transfer of knowledge.
Expand this one-off approach by leveraging the wealth of knowledge your employees possess. While many traditional training methods rely on absorption instead of interaction, user-generated content is based on employees engaging with the learning process by sharing knowledge and providing feedback. Identify employees in the organization who are knowledgeable and possess strong social and communication skills. Train subject matter experts (SMEs) to design and develop training content. Leveraging what they know develops your employees while saving money on external training costs.
Focus on Multimedia Delivery of Training Materials
Text is good, but too much text is a recipe for ineffective training. Whether it’s an eLearning module or PowerPoint slide decks, people tend to overdo text because they want to share as much information as possible. Too much text on the screen makes it difficult for employees to stay engaged with the training material. They’re either distracted trying to read the text or writing it down, assuming that if it’s on-screen, it must be important.
Don’t eliminate text entirely, but do use short sentences that are quick to read and write down. Focus instead on compelling visuals that represent the material and support your training efforts. Pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words.
Take advantage of screencasts using low-cost or free tools. They’re easy to develop and make training more interesting and engaging. Videos are also more engaging than other media types because they blend multiple communication methods into one format. Screencasting allows employees to view the instructor’s computer screen as they illustrate the topic. They’re ideal for step-by-step directions for computer-based activities, as well as recording informal videos with SMEs to share knowledge on a variety of topics.
Use PowerPoint as a Development Tools
PowerPoint is a classic presentation tool that can be optimized for eLearning. In a traditional classroom training setting, PowerPoint supports the instructor and allows for minimal audience participation on its own. Instead, interaction exists in the form of questions, assignments, group activities, and assessments.
For effective eLearning, rethink how you use PowerPoint slides. A large percentage of eLearning courses employ a slides-based approach. The key difference is the level of interactivity. Use PowerPoint files as storyboards for later development to eLearning modules. Many eLearning creation tools, such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate, are designed to convert PowerPoints into eLearning programs.
Go Beyond eLearning Presentations
At its core, eLearning is any type of digital learning or training material. While many organizations equate eLearning with online presentations, there are multiple ways to deliver digital content:
- Virtual instructor-led training
- Mobile device eLearning (mLearning)
Even with affordable options, creating and deploying eLearning solutions can require significant time, effort, and design expertise for maximum benefits. Fortunately, you don’t need to approach eLearning alone.
Sign up for our eLearning course to learn theories and best practices for creating effective content, or learn more about our consultative approach to creating custom eLearning materials for your specific needs.