Learning Re-Imagined

Skillsoft Blog

How to ‘Trick Out’ Your e-Learning Courseware

By Tim Hildreth

My 16-year old son has just started taking driver’s ed and he’s already talking about how he’s going to – in his words – “trick out” his car (his non-existent car, mind you, but when you’re 16 and thinking about driving, the actual existence or lack thereof of a car, is beside the point!). The point in his mind is that there’s no way he’s going to drive some off-the-lot, boring car. His car has to be personalized, or all about him — in other words customized.

Sometimes, training needs to be customized as well.

We see this every day with our customers. In fact, our hosting organization supports over four times as much custom content for our customers as off-the-shelf content from our own library. At our recent Café e-learning event we dug into this topic with our customers and got some great insights from them about when to customize vs. when to use off-the-shelf e-learning courseware, and how much customization is required in different circumstances.

I thought I’d use this blog post to share with you some of the insights we got from our customers.

Almost everyone has some need for custom. There are plenty of times when off-the-shelf courseware is all you need and with a library as large as SkillSoft’s, the chance you can leverage something off-the-shelf is even greater. But other times, you either need to tweak what you get off the shelf or create something from scratch. Common areas for customization include compliance and leadership.

Sometimes you have to create content from scratch. When dealing with proprietary systems and internal processes, you often can’t leverage off-the-shelf content.  But how much effort you put into the content and what tools you use depend on a couple of key factors including how long the information will be relevant (is it something that will only be relevant for a short period of time; or is it something with a longer shelf-life?), your target audience (do they already know a lot about the topic and just need a quick hit; or do they need lots of details?), and who will be doing the development (will it be subject matter experts in the business; or will your L&D team be doing the work?).

There are many tools to consider for customization. For those shorter, more informal needs, you can usually get away with a rapid-assembly type tool like SkillSoft’s Dialogue Design. For more complex, L&D-driven projects, you might consider a tool like SkillStudio. If you don’t have the resources internally to do the work yourself, you always can consider outsourced services.

How about you? When are you choosing to use off-the-shelf, to customize, or to create from scratch? And what tools are you using to do it?

When I hear my son talk about customizing a car, I know already that he’ll invest more time in and care more about his (potential) car if he can make it his own, rather than if it’s just a plain car. But maybe I’ll be able to convince him to start small. I wonder how he’d feel about a nice, discreet bumper sticker.

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