Are you assembling a new learning or training team in your organization? Or onboarding a new employee who has never used eLearning authoring tools before? Here’s why you’ll want to stop and ask yourself a few key questions before you buy that expensive eLearning subscription or software.
Third party course authoring tools like Articulate Storyline™, 360™ or Adobe Captivate™ can be expensive. If $1,600 USD for a subscription to a cloud-based suite of tools seems reasonable to you, think about the extended learning hours, trial and error, and upskilling necessary for your team to get up to speed.
If you’ve read my other article on the benefit of Rise over Storyline, you know you might not need an annual subscription or new tool at all. In fact, many organizations overlook the course authoring tools directly available in their Learning Management System (LMS), and purchase a costly authoring tool to essentially replicate what they could have done via their LMS.
In my experience, organizations just getting started with eLearning are often too quick to purchase a subscription to an eLearning course authoring tool, slow to invest in training on those tools, and in denial about how long it takes to develop decent courses with those same tools.
The result: new employees spend hours developing a hodgepodge of courses without a consistent strategy, template or instructional design principles. Sure, they’ve explored the tool, but how does it align with the business goals?
Questions to determine your organizational readiness for software subscription
Here are the questions I recommend asking before purchasing any annual software subscription; because it’s not just the cost of the software—it’s all the hours your team will spend trying to learn it.
Only invest in learning tools if you can invest in training as well
Yes, it’s definitely a good idea to invest in tools for your learning or training team, but only if you can also invest in training or upskilling your team on those tools. You’ll also want to provide leadership for them to use the tools consistently, align with your organizational goals and create a style guide and guidelines of use (or be prepared for the wild west!)
I’m not saying you shouldn’t support your team with the tools they ask for, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t experiment with new tools. But instead of agreeing right away, ask instead:
Do we have to use Storyline or Articulate 360?
If so, is our internal team resourced for this?
Do we have a plan for using this tool effectively that aligns with our business goals?
For any new system or tool, be prepared to build in discovery time if your team is inexperienced with eLearning software, and be sure to ask for rationales behind their prototypes and samples of work to ensure they’re on the right track.
Pro tip: Hire a consultant to use that eLearning subscription wisely!
A consultant can provide time and cost-saving advice on how best to upskill a team with eLearning software, and work with you to devise effective workflows, a training plan and templates for your team.
A consultant who specializes in learning ecosystems/stacks and learning technology can assess which tools your team needs and how to get them up to speed (or identify if there are any gaps in your current systems that might be holding your team back).
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Leah Chang is a learning consultant with 16+ years of experience designing online and classroom learning. In her spare time she goes on self-propelled travel adventures and tries to grow vegetables.