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In the corporate sphere, inviting tutors and gathering employees in classrooms has long been regarded as the only ‘right’ way to train staff. But let’s admit it: face-to-face training can cost a company a pretty penny. This type of training entails expenditures on training facilities, travel and accommodation, and recurring instructor fees for every training session.

A progressive alternative to this approach is distance learning software. This is the technology that enables you to make educational content available anytime and anywhere. In this article, we’ll cover distance learning software that will help you reduce training costs while making training more flexible and more easily accessible.

» Video Conferencing and Webinar Tools

Video Conferencing and Webinar Tools

In this category, we include the tools to conduct video-based training in the form of virtual sessions or webinars. A virtual session (or virtual classroom) is part of the educational process for learners and instructors to interact with each other, brainstorm ideas, and discuss topics online. A webinar is a live online workshop during which participants listen to the presenter and can ask questions or give comments in a chat.  

Examples: Zoom, Skype, GoToTraining, WebEx, WizIQ, Newrow Smart.

› Why use them?

If you conduct webinars and virtual sessions, you offset the repetitive costs of face-to-face training and travel. They also help to get rid of venue expenses and train more people. They’re considered to be the fastest option to launch eLearning in an organization. After all, video conferencing has become the only way to train and learn during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Webinars and virtual sessions will let you keep instructor-led training and its live nature, gain rapid feedback from learners, and assess their knowledge level on the spot. In the corporate sphere, webinars can be a fine training method for human resource management, sales, marketing, customer service skills, and other areas.  

› How to use them to reduce costs

Bring internal experts into play. If you already use webinars for training, it’s still possible to spend less on them. When you retain external trainers to conduct webinars, you also pay for their marketing expenses - which they include in the cost of their webinar. How can you stop overpaying for this? The solution is to ask your experienced employees to conduct webinars for their colleagues.

Encourage peer learning. There is also a solution to make virtual sessions fit into a daily workflow perfectly. It’s called lunch & learn and represents informal training sessions conducted while having a meal together. For an online lunch & learn, you should also invite one of the employees to cover a topic while others are sitting behind their monitors, eating or having coffee, and gaining new knowledge. For example, product training conducted in this way will be both engaging and effective. 

Squeeze more out of webinars. If you invite well-known guest speakers to present at your webinars, these events become pretty expensive. But you can break down their content and make leaflets, manuals, and check-lists out of the webinars. This way, you reuse information and increase your return on investment in training. Learners can access these materials when watching recorded versions of webinars, and it will be a good replacement for live lectures. 

» Authoring Tools

Authoring Tools

Authoring tools are the software that help you build online courses and quizzes to assess learners’ knowledge right away. Previously, training course development used to require a lot of effort, needed programmers, and was time-consuming. Now, authoring tools are the way to build training courses in-house. They come in a range of types, pricing, and usability, but there are some that let an ordinary computer user make an entire course. Now, you can build a course with ready-made interactions, templates, types of quizzes and design it without any external help. 

Examples: iSpring Suite, Articulate 360, Adobe Captivate, DomiKnow, Easygenerator, Lectora Online.

Why use them?

You may, for instance, have existing content or assets that potentially contain helpful training info. It can be in the form of Word files, PDFs, manuals, etc. Frankly, they tend to look unappealing and boring by themselves. With the help of an authoring tool, you can ‘upcycle’ these files as engaging learning content. Interactions and quizzes will transform them into full-fledged online courses. Some authoring tools can supplement your courses with audio narration, video lectures, and screencasting, and it won’t require any external help. 

How to use them to reduce costs

All-in-one tools. If you want to build multimedia courses, a proper authoring tool will save you from having to use additional recording and editing tools. You’ll find the necessary features already embedded. Also, consider choosing an authoring tool that provides access to a content library. This way, you’ll have lots of carefully curated backgrounds, characters, and objects, and won’t need additional stock photo subscriptions.

Fast micro courses. It’s not necessary to create long courses. You can speed up training with microlessons, exercises, or quizzes that will be solely task-based. This approach to training is called microlearning. Microlearning delivers knowledge just in time, like a single idea or a way to solve a particular case. For example, it can be a daily email with a piece of advice. Or a bite-sized course as a job aid to deal with an angry customer. Anyway, it will be cheap or cost nothing at all, but may provide a huge improvement. 

Create once, use many times. Unlike live training, you can use eLearning content multiple times. Plus, you can update, revise, and change it any time you need to. And it will be much cheaper and easier than redeveloping a face-to-face training program from scratch. 

» Learning Management Systems

Learning Management Systems

In eLearning, things usually go like this: you build courses with an authoring tool, and your learners take them through a learning management system. In an LMS, you can store courses, assessments, and videos so learners can access them. You can assign courses to a particular learner, group, or department, discuss training topics in an embedded chat, track training results, and more. 

Examples: iSpring Learn, Docebo, LearnUpon, BlackBoard, Moodle.

Why use them?

An LMS lets you manage the entire training process and control it without external help. It automates many tedious tasks like assignments, grading, stat preparation, and reporting. It can be seen as an online university, or a robust helper that connects learners with learning materials and course authors, all on a single platform. It helps to manage not only online, but also offline training by planning it in calendars, sending notifications, tracking attendance, and more.

How to use them to reduce costs

Pay only for active users. The point here is to look for a proper model of payment that addresses your needs most. Basically, it’s better to opt for a user-driven model of payment. You save money by paying for only those users who have been active during a billing period. Otherwise, you will waste money on “ghost” accounts and inactive users. 

Calculate and optimize precise training costs. Systems of reports in LMSs gather stats on how the training process is going in your organization. Thanks to LMS reporting, you can track training results and report every dollar spent on training to the board of directors. Moreover, you can monitor which course is actually effective and which is just a waste of time and money. 

» Messengers as Distance Learning Software

Messengers as Distance Learning Software

We’ve become so accustomed to them in daily life that they’re not perceived as ‘serious’ software anymore. But wait, messengers have stepped into the corporate and education spheres. Remember Slack, ZohoCliq, Microsoft Teams, and other widely recognized team chat tools? Or let’s take Telegram, for example. People now generate quality content in this messenger. You can embrace this tendency for training purposes and encourage people to learn from the links, videos, and pics they share.

Use them for learner-generated content. First, you can stop using handouts when conducting a face-to-face training session. Instead, create a theme channel in a messenger and prompt trainees to upload reviews, related videos, social media posts, etc. These items will be fine for post-training content; they will accumulate knowledge, bring more context to training, and build up training culture. Instead of just passively reading premade handouts, learners will collaborate with each other. And you don’t have to pay for printing!

» Bottom Line

With distance learning software, moving at least a portion of training online is easy. Moreover, it can eliminate the impact of the costs that go along with face-to-face training. Feel free to learn more on how to create and deliver eLearning content.

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