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Jon Kennard


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Getting the most from e-courseware


Neil Georgeson of KnowledgePoint says there are big benefits, but migration needs some thought to get full value.

Many training companies are finding themselves at the thin end of the wedge when it comes to supplying courseware for instructor-led training (ILT), especially with the myriad of new delivery formats demanded of ILT in the modern training market. Customers are increasingly opting for virtual instructor-led training (VILT) to save the costs of travel, accommodation and out of office resources, yet the distribution of materials either offsets savings if passed on, or eats away at profits if absorbed by the training company itself.

The answer is some form of electronic delivery. But USBs, CDs or DVDs are still physical items that must be circulated at a cost. So the emergence of multi-platform courseware delivery systems is extremely timely, as training businesses look to offset these expenses. However, e-versions of courseware (e-courseware) are sometimes seen as second best, particularly by older learners. These students then perceive they aren’t getting the full value from their investment in the course.

So how can businesses turn this classic 'can't win' situation around so they can meet the demands of their corporate customers and their students without sacrificing their own profitability?  It takes more than just a simple migration. Here are the four main issues to consider:

Web delivery means latecomers are welcome

When e-courseware is delivered via a cloud-based solution there are savings on distribution costs. This is a huge benefit in itself, but there are more advantages than this. Not least the fact that registrations can be accepted right up to the day of the course. There’s no need for a three- or four-day registration deadline prior to the course date to enable materials to be couriered because e-courseware is available anywhere in the world instantaneously. Consequently, training companies have far more flexibility and potential for filling courses – and their customers can balance their training with business demands right up until the last minute.

Multi platform e-courseware also gives flexibility to students who can access materials 24/7, post-course and if required, on mobiles or tablets. Importantly, it eliminates the need for students to remember to bring materials along to the class – and the infuriating delays while a trainer has to suddenly find an extra book and then squeeze an already packed course into an even shorter timeframe as they invest time in resourcing the students.

Ease of use is a top priority

Training companies should choose a provider with a solid background in working with the training industry rather than one that merely supplies generic ebook delivery platforms to ensure that they can support this crucial demand. When used as a content source to complement training, a user needs to engage and interact with what they’re reading, not merely consume or read the content.

So look for a solution that provides facilities for content highlighting, note-taking and bookmarking and one that synchronises these annotations across all devices used for access.

As students might well want to access content on smartphones or tablets after the course, it could be tempting to go for the scroll down/reflowed format used these days by the more mobile-friendly websites. However, remember that trainers often want to refer a student to specific pages and so the book format is easier to navigate when going back and forth during training.

Security of IP

Keeping intellectual property safe is a real concern – and is often a differentiator for training providers who are specialists in their training product. While it’s difficult to keep track of distributed PDFs, USBs and other similar devices, access to e-courseware should be password-restricted, as well as the ability to copy or print.

If a system is hosted and administered by the software provider, it takes away the cost and stress of maintaining hardware, software and server assets in-house. Besides, established providers adhere to high security standards as their business depends on protecting clients' information.

Optimise your design to change perceptions

At the moment e-courseware is charged for per book rather than per page and this gives training businesses the scope to put back some of the design features that have been often stripped away during the past few years for budgetary reasons, without needing to charge more. By working creatively within this e-courseware format, they can help counteract students’ negative perceptions.

For example, it’s possible to:

  • Include colour at no extra cost to make content easier to read, learn and retain
  • Design stylish layouts making full use of space, as there’s no restrictions or cost impact on the number of pages used
  • Embed videos demonstrating software or machinery and/or giving hints and tips
  • Use e-courseware as a subtle sales platform by adding pages with details of follow up courses, certification paths and other information.

E-courseware does already address many of the problems, irritations and costs surrounding course materials. All a training company needs to do is to be aware of these considerations when deploying a solution – and take advantage of its potential and add their own value – to show that e-courseware are not just an affordable alternative but a high quality product in their own right.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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