“Costing e-Learning is much like peeling an onion… there are many layers, they don’t ever seem to end, and sometimes it really smells. … if you understand the variables involved in determining costs you can take the magic right out of the process. Don’t be misled that it’s easy though; there are a lot of variables to consider!”
With the advent and proliferation of Elearning, The most remarkable feature which is attributed to the Elearning content development is the cost effectiveness of Elearning training delivery. But it’s not as simple as it is stated above and there are many aspects and dimensions which will form the final quotation of costing and implementation. And that again says that Elearning training will always remain to be more cost effective then the instructor based training delivery but the dimensions crucial to be mentioned here will play decisive role in understanding the different ways of variations in Elearning course development to make things clearer and transparent.
The following are few of the important aspects impacting cost of Elearning course development.
The most crucial aspect impacting cost of Elearning course development is Graphics and Multimedia. Since the instructors are unavailable in this mode of training and learning, the interactive addition of multimedia and Graphics compensates the absence of instructors and makes the learning and training more interactive, exhaustive and effective.
In other words we can say that the complexity and simplicity of Multimedia and Graphics will directly impact the cost of Elearning course development and the varied dimensions related to Multimedia and Graphics would the following dimensions:
- Animated video editing
- Enhancement and editing of the content
- Custom made narration
- Production of custom made video and 3d Animation
Here it is extremely important to mention that complexity or variation in context of Multimedia and Graphics will have strong impact on final costing of the product or the online content and delivery.
In case of linear course development, where the simple text based assessment is involved as the navigation would be standard and typical templates would be used for course development and in turn would take the costing towards the lower spectrum. But when we talk about the training with varied decision points and in that case different custom mapping would be created leaving no room or less possibility of re using the already existing templates.
The Elearning course development where there are possibilities of conditional branching, the cost of Elearning development will surely shoot up. These types of advanced course development would have Large number of hands on exercises, advanced level of navigation, custom pages and conditional interactive components.
Development time for instructional design
The time spent in designing the course ware is crucial from the inception of storyboard to the completion of final content or we can say in other words the kind of effort needed to complete the content plays a decisive role in the cost of Elearning development.
Here again there are some specification as to how the Elearning course development will take shape and what are the other dimensions being involved in overall costing of the Elearning content.
If the basic structure is not ready and there are no storyboards existing, the time and effort would be more and thus the costing would go higher, while in case of basic structure and storyboard in place will speed up the process of content development and would lower the cost of courseware development.
As in the case where there is no structure ready or the storyboard not in place will increase the number of subject matter expert and instructional design hours, resulting in increased cost of the whole development process. In case of highly specialized training modules, the time consumption increases manifolds to facilitate planning and implementation as the content does not exist, except in the imagination of the subject matter experts so planning here again plays an important role in time consumption and formulation of the desired content requirement. In this scenario again the cost goes really high.
The other crucial aspect affecting the cost of Elearning content development would be standards compliance, usability testing etc, which is supposed to be added in overall and final costing of the Elearning content development.
Addressing all the above mentioned specification for content development will make the process of Elearning development effective and user friendly would help the industry to be competent enough to take up the challenges in smooth way and deliver performance and competitive advantage as well.
The understanding of the above mentioned guidelines will enable the industry to have uniform playing fields for all the vendors, in turn would standardize the process as a whole.