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St Albans, Herts, United Kingdom, 2010/05/16 - Matthew Lloyd, managing director of the e-learning solutions provider, Omniplex, contributed to the recent discussion, in London, on ‘Value for Money eLearning Solutions’, organised by eLearning Network (eLN) - a UK based non-profit organisation.
Beginning by concentrating on learning management systems (LMSs), Lloyd recalled the times – some ten years and more ago – when an LMS cost seven figures and implementing one was a major exercise in enterprise-wide IT management.
He added: “Things have changed. Today, we have lots of LMSs from which to choose and, although there are wide variations in price, most of them are a lot cheaper than in the old days.
“Unfortunately, many of them look hideous – with screens that are grey, boring and reminiscent of ‘Windows 95’. Thankfully, there are some LMSs which present their information in an attractive way and, with today’s hosted solutions – using ‘cloud’ computing – the right LMS can prove to be much more cost effective than an old-fashioned LMS.”
Lloyd explained that, as the number of LMS vendors has grown and more suppliers are chasing buyers, LMS prices have fallen generally. Moreover, he said, increasingly, organisations are tending to produce learning content internally and so – with the money that they save in terms of not outsourcing the production of learning content – they can justify spending that money on other areas of learning, such as learning storage, delivery and analysis systems including LMSs.
While welcoming the trend to use rapid authoring tools to produce learning content in-house by subject matter experts, rather than outsourcing the process to specialist instructional designers, Lloyd sounded a note of caution.
“When you adopt this process purely to try to save money, you need to be wary of eight issues,” he said.
• Keep the learning project simple. Just because you’re saving money by producing learning materials in-house, don’t be tempted to over-extend the project’s remit.
• Beware of hidden costs. For example, Moodle – an open source LMS – costs little to install and run but users should not forget its associated maintenance costs.
• It’s still important to use the right tool for the job in hand – regardless of the cost.
• Don’t use too cheap a tool – and then get locked in to the tool.
• Make sure you don’t have to go back to the tool or system’s suppliers every time you want any changes to that tool or system. Opt for high quality rather than the cheapest option – and remember that enjoying good customer service should not be a luxury.
• If it’s not easy to find the resources you need once you start to use the tool or system, then that tool or system is no good for you.
• Bad (learning) design can cost you as much as – or even more than - good design. Eventually, learning materials produced using bad instructional design will cost much more than learning materials produced using good instructional design – even if the latter learning materials are, initially, costly.
• It’s what happens after the learning intervention – however that is delivered – that is key to the success of any learning initiative. Designers and developers need to find ways to stimulate the brains of those who use the learning materials, if that project is to be successful.
Omniplex, which has offices in the UK and Canada supporting clients across Europe and North America, aims to become a trusted resource to whom its clients can turn, safe in the knowledge that, as it is not tied to any one particular technology, it will give unbiased, reliable advice. The e-learning solutions supplied by Omniplex address the full value-chain of technology-based learning, including authoring tools and services, learning management systems, as well as innovative solutions for learning re-enforcement.
Omniplex (omniplex.co.uk) is a leading provider of e-learning authoring, delivery, tracking and reinforcement products and services. Based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, in the UK, and in Montreal, Canada, Omniplex supports clients across Europe and North America.
About the eLN CIC
The eLN CIC is a non-profit organisation run by the e-learning community for the e-learning community. The eLN CIC is the number one source for guidance on best practice and future trends in technology-based learning and development at work, with more than 2,000 members in the UK and beyond.