Solo or Tandem: When to Use an External eLearning Content Development Team

Paul Daly | 10/09/2015

Having worked in the eLearning industry for more years than I would like to admit, I have heard the question of whether to use an internal or external content development team over and over again. The arguments for both have changed over time - technology, a recession, skills, speed to responding to change and business priorities etc.

Luckily, we are at a time where eLearning tools are constantly being developed and organizations can rapidly upskill their staff. In fact, Omniplex is working with many leading organizations who are investing in internal eLearning teams. And although this is totally achievable, a majority of our clients are coming back and asking for our experienced content development team to work with them to create the first few modules.

So the real question is why are people asking for experienced content developers?

Experience

Yes, outsourcing when you have a team will initially be more expensive, but the reality is that over time the return on investment will be far higher. It is important to think about whether it’s worth taking the risk to the business if, for example: the eLearning and training fails, or if you find out the course is non-compliant, or if the software systems are used incorrectly (poor business data, forecasting, wastage, lack of customer information).

Working with an experienced eLearning content development team will provide you with the experience and resources to make your training successful. Across an outsourced team there will be a range of skills and experience (Training Designers, Instructional Designers, Graphic Designers, Project Managers and eLearning Developers) working for you – do you have these skills readily available in your business?

Creativity

To make eLearning successful you have to be creative.  You need to understand how to take a subject, that more often or not is not the most interesting, and turn it into an engaging and informative eLearning course. Most clients are the subject matter experts, but rarely have the level of creativity required. An outsourced content development team will have invested in creative staff and tools to create something very special. They will also have the experience of exploring, investigating and questioning the subject matter experts to turn subject content into a create eLearning module.

Complexity

As mentioned in the introduction, the eLearning authoring tools on the market today are very advanced.  Investing in these tools will help you create great eLearning, not only in terms of look-and-feel but the level on engagement for the learner.

However, to make your courses really successful you need to push beyond the boundaries of technology. This could be bespoke and interactive characters, complex scenarios or multiple learning paths for different learner requirements, gamification, media, technically, it could be integrating additional learning events to your eLearning. This is all possible, but do you have the skills?

What is very important to your success is that no matter how complex the content build, the learners experience and journey should be simple, enjoyable and valuable.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”  Woody Guthrie

Working in Collaboration

Back to my question at the start – why do clients invest in external teams when they have the tools in house? Hopefully this now be much clearer.

I'd love to know your experience working solo or in tandem with a content development team. Were you successful? What problems did you run into? 

Paul Daly

Paul is an eLearning Solutions Consultant at Omniplex