5 aspects to consider when choosing an eLearning provider

Choosing the right eLearning provider, both in relation to platforms and content, is fundamental to make the most of the digital training experience: in this article you will find the five aspects to consider to avoid unwanted surprises today and tomorrow. 

 

1. CHOOSING THE BEST PLATFORM, NOT THE “MOST POPULAR” 

When you start an eLearning project, the first aspect to consider is related to infrastructures: choosing the best platform to meet you needs can make a difference between a good or bad outcome. 

Is there a platform that is better than others? The answer to this question cannot be absolute, and uncritically relying on the most popular service as such could be a mistake. As we have said many times, in fact, the key to success is analysing in details the specific needs, so to be able to identify the tool to meet them. Some elements to consider can be: number of instructors and students involved, type of material, devices to use (computers, tablets, smartphones), introduction of additional factors beyond the training itself (which we talked about in the previous article). Only when it’s clear what our eLearning project need, it will be possible to choose the best provider, which could not be the most famous and well reviewed. 

 

2. ENTRUST AN EXPERT AND RELIABLE PROVIDER 

If, as we said, a platform’s popularity is not a determining factor to define its validity, on the contrary reliability plays a fundamental role in choosing an eLearning provider. In most cases, in fact, launching a digital training project requires initial investments that can be quite conspicuous and have to be paid back with long-term advantages

What makes a provider reliable? First of all, experience in the field: having provided eLearning solutions for many clients and in many industries, in fact, allows to anticipate possible issues and be able to promptly respond when necessary. 

Secondly, maintenance: a good provider will build a system that do not require continuous interventions to be used. Making the client autonomous, in fact, is a sign of professionalism, in particular when those interventions need to be done by the provider itself. 

Last but not least, the use of shared languages. Choosing a provider that is particularly innovative, in fact, can be a double-edged sword: it can mean more original and creative solutions, but also being dependent on the market evolution and on the specific provider, since no one else would be able to maintain the platform

 

3. INVEST IN STANDARD CONTENT 

When talking about training material, you have two main options: to buy content from a catalog, ready to use but not tailor-made basing on the specific needs of your users, or to design original content, with higher costs but customised and more effective. 

If you prefer the second option, choosing the right provider is critical to have quality material. Leaving aside the more instructional aspects related to interaction and adaptivity, respecting standards is the key to make the economic and cultural investment valuable over time. Designing original eLearning content, in fact, means not only creating training materials to use for lessons, but also building a storage of company knowledge and skills

That’s why using a standard recognised worldwide like the SCORM ensures that the content has a number of operational advantages – like the ones related to tracking, for example -, but most importantly that it could be read by most LMS platforms. In the same way, when choosing technologies, using an open standard like HTML5 guarantees that your content is be compatible with most devices and very flexible to use. All this is very important to safeguard your investment in the future and allow to switch to another provider keeping our “heritage”.  

 

4. INVEST IN FLEXIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE 

Independently from the type of platform or content that you will select, you should consider whether to install in house or to use a Cloud server, either dedicated or shared. 

We talked about all the benefits of the Cloud and when choosing an eLearning provider this aspect pays a primary role: having an in house infrastructure, unless you invest a lot of money, implies a number of limitations in terms of reliability and flexibility. When you launch an eLearning project, in fact, you often start with a testing phase with reduced students and content, and then evaluate results and effectiveness for future expansion. If you use Cloud infrastructure, it is possible to launch projects with lower investments and enlarge the number of users and materials with no high costs and long time required, ensuring more freedom of choice in relation to future actions. 

 

5. SPEND TIME FOR INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN 

As we said, when launching an eLearning project there are at least two main elements involved: infrastructure and content. At this point it should be clear which are the aspects to consider to choose a provider, but it can be hard to select one service to meet all your needs. In this case, you can be tempted to entrust more than one provider for all the different elements included in the training process. 

You can think about an eLearning project imaging it like a car: engine, body, fuel, driver, weather and road conditions all contribute to a good or bad driving experience. However, it is essential that not only all components have good quality and satisfy your needs, but that they are all compatible with each other and have the same goal. In the same way, even if you have a good platform and effective content, it is crucial that they are all part of the same training project: whichever provider (o providers) you choose, you should spend time on instructional design to keep each phase and element under control and ensure coherence throughout the whole process. 

 

As you may have understood, the five aspects we have analysed are often underestimated due to hurry or lack of information, two elements that are not compatible with the choice of a provider that supports you in introducing eLearning in your company. Taking carefully considered decisions is the key to make your investment give return, both in the short and long term.   

Do you want to learn more about digital training? Read the next articles!

 

 

 

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