The True Cost of Rapid E-learning

It Depends On How Much Knowledge You Want Employees to Retain.

Anyone that has worked in a large corporate environment is more than likely familiar with the boring voice-over-PowerPoint sexual harassment training that is out there. This is a horrible example of rapid e-learning!

Rapid e-learning is training that can be designed, developed and distributed quickly. Tony Karrer on his blog eLearning Technology says it is “rapid creation of courseware by people who are less experienced with courseware development, particularly subject matter experts.” And he is completely right on the money.

Most organizations turn to rapid e-learning to quickly fill a need for training or to replace classroom-type instruction. But what is the true cost of rapid e-learning?

Let’s do a brief evaluation of the pros and cons:

>> Pros: fast time to market; usually pretty cost effective; can be created by subject matter experts (SMEs) instead of teams.

>> Cons: 99 percent of the time it’s not very engaging; SMEs are not always the best trainers; SMEs are usually not designers and their presentations show this.

Now ask yourself the question, “What is the true cost of rapid e-learning?”

I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. Yes, the price point and timing are incredibly important, but if the training is hurriedly slammed together and it’s not very engaging, how much do you think the users will retain knowledge — which is the primary goal of training?

Granted, there are a few good examples of rapid e-learning, but the majority of people using these tools don’t have the first clue about quality, engaging e-learning.

What are your plans to make your training programs better in 2009?

 —Lee Graham, co-founder and chief digital officer of TRImagination, has been involved in e-learning media production and Web development for five years. He has worked on projects for Tyco Electronics, National Institute of Health, Discovery Education, United Technologies / Otis Elevator Corp. and Abraxas Corp. You can read his posts at or e-mail him at


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