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David Evans

The Skills Platform

Product Marketing Manager

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7 things to consider before purchasing an eLearning course


The exponential growth in the uptake of eLearning has revolutionised the training industry, with multiple providers shouting proposed benefits from the rooftops; greater flexibility, improved learner experience and superior cost-efficiencies chief among them.

However, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, and there are many factors to consider before deciding whether e-Learning is the right choice for you and your organisation. Critics have warned that a ‘box ticking’ culture could soon emerge, with users going through the motions to pass assessments rather than actually engaging with content.

Conversely, others have suggested that eLearning facilitates a more focused study, allowing staff to go at their own pace, while also achieving consistency across the board for widespread workforces. Ultimately, successful adoption will likely come down to individuals - it’ll suit some, not others - but here are seven key questions to steer you in the right direction:

1. Is the course compliant with statutory standards?

No matter your industry sector, it’s likely that you’ll be expected to follow strict regulations when carrying out certain duties, making it absolutely essential that all training is verified to meet mandatory requirements.

In the healthcare sector, for example, inadequate training could have dramatic consequences for patient care, so it’s imperative to ensure that your provider has had their programme signed-off by relevant industry bodies. Don’t assume it to be the case, always ask for details.

2. Is the material up-to-date?

Following on from the first question, there’s little point in claiming to meet statutory standards if the course is outdated (as the latest criteria won’t be covered, and standards not actually met).

One of the benefits of eLearning is that providers can update courses remotely, empowering them to respond changes in legislation with great speed, ensuring that users receive the very latest training without delay.

However, just because they can do this, doesn’t necessarily mean they will, so ask how your prospective provider works alongside industry bodies to respond to stay ahead of the game.

3. How intuitive and user-friendly is it?

Elearning is often proclaimed as removing the obstacles associated with face-to-face training, essentially promising to save you time and money. However, some systems are easier to pick up than others, and you may find that additional training is required just to use the software (somewhat going against the proposed benefits).

It’s advisable to ask for a demo or free trial if you are planning on bulk buying and rolling out courses for your whole team, giving you a chance to rate its usability before parting with cash.

You’ll also want to be satisfied that the learning experience is compelling and interactive, conveying information in the best way to ensure knowledge retention.

4. Is there aftersales support?

Again, following on from the previous point, one of the major concerns surrounding the mass-adoption of eLearning is that staff members will naturally have varying levels of computer literacy.

Initial training with a ‘staff champion’ - a team member designated to talk those less confident through the first stages of eLearning - can certainly help, but you’ll also want reassurances that there’s a support team on-call with satisfactory response times.

Time is money, and downtime will inevitably impact on your schedule, so it’s also advisable to check that a sufficient disaster recovery process is in place.

5. What do others say?

Any supplier worth their salt will be more than happy to show you testimonials and case studies from happy customers, but you should also ask to be introduced to them - giving you an opportunity to talk to those in similar organisations, allowing you to ask direct questions, review experiences and find out what challenges were faced (and how they were overcome).

6. Are you likely to see a return on investment?

This is the golden question that will likely sway decision making. At a very basic level, you’ll want to review your historic spend on comparable training - accounting for room hire, travel, external support, and possibly time spent away from the job. You can then look at the proposed costs of courses you’re looking at, and evaluate the savings.

Measuring the ROI of eLearning runs deeper than that, though, as you’ll want complete confidence that the ultimate metric is achievable, i.e. that the learning results in skills and knowledge that can be applied in the field.

You can ask providers about pass rates, and discuss learner outcomes with current users, but the best way to guarantee success is to...

7. Ensure that measures are in place for on-the-job assessment

Monitoring learner development is relatively straightforward, with many systems offering real-time reporting to track progress and ensure compliance. However, putting total faith in technology can be naive; just because modules have been completed does not necessarily mean that practical skills have been learnt.

At its best, e-Learning can provide the foundations for Continuing Professional Development, but to ensure that theory is put into practice, you’ll still want to monitor individuals to check that they are actually as competent as the computer says they are.

There are multiple benefits to eLearning, but you should still shop around to ensure you get a comprehensive package that suits your requirements. Considering the seven steps listed above will help give you clarity before making a purchase decision.

For more detailed guidance on e-Learning in healthcare, you can download our whitepaper: How to successfully implement e-Learning into healthcare practices.

Author Profile Picture
David Evans

Product Marketing Manager

Read more from David Evans

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