Custom eLearning Course Development: A Comprehensive Guide to Cost and Design

Custom eLearning courses offer a powerful tool for organizations to train employees on specific skills and knowledge. But how much does it cost to develop one? This article dives into the factors affecting custom eLearning course development costs and explores the design process.

Why Choose Custom eLearning?

eLearning offers a flexible and engaging way to deliver training compared to traditional classroom-based instruction. It allows for:

  • Remote Delivery: Learners can access the material at their own pace and convenience, regardless of location.
  • Scalability: Easily train a large number of employees simultaneously.
  • Accessibility: eLearning courses can be designed to accommodate different learning styles and abilities.
  • Standardization: Ensures all employees receive consistent training content.
  • Updateability: Courses can be easily updated to reflect changes in company policy or industry standards.

Factors Affecting Custom eLearning Course Development Costs

Several factors contribute to the total cost of your custom eLearning course. Here’s a breakdown of the key considerations:

  • Course Complexity: Simple courses with basic narration and slides will naturally cost less than complex courses that include interactive elements, simulations, or video.
  • Course Length: Longer courses require more development time and resources, thus increasing the price tag. As a rule of thumb, plan for 1 minute of seat time (learner completion time) per content screen or slide. However, this can vary depending on the complexity of the content.
  • Content Readiness: Do you have a complete storyboard, script, and graphics ready to go, or will the development company need to create content from scratch? Reusing existing content can significantly reduce costs.
  • Level of Interactivity: Highly interactive courses with features like gamification, simulations, and branching scenarios will cost more than basic courses with limited interaction.
  • Timeline: Rushing a course to completion might require more resources and incur additional costs.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that your eLearning course is usable for learners with special abilities will increase the development expenses.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: Factor in the cost of maintaining the course and fixing technical issues.

Additional Considerations

  • Testing & Required Functionality: How many devices will the course need to be tested on? Does it need to function identically across multiple browsers or comply with accessibility standards (e.g., Section 508)?
  • Extra Media or Languages: Custom graphics, illustrations, live video, voice-over narration, or multi-language translations will increase the overall cost.

Custom eLearning Course Design Levels

Now that you understand the cost factors, let’s delve into the design process. The level of interactivity you choose will significantly impact the design and development time. Here’s a breakdown of common eLearning course design tiers offered by many eLearning development companies, Our custom courses begin by understanding your needs and which level of interactivity will be most effective for your learners.

LevelDefinitionSlidesActivityImmersiveFeaturesDesign Time
FoundationPresentations, Introductions, Policy Overviews85%15%0%Basic screens, knowledge checks, simple activities, visuals2 weeks
Level 1 Knowledge SharingBasic eLearning with minimal interactivity. Designed for foundational understanding.
– Basic Product Knowledge,
– Customer Interactions,
– Policy Training
70%30%0%Exploratory interactions, basic scenarios, light animations, engaging graphics, quizzes2-4 weeks
Level 2 Application & AnalysisEnhanced eLearning with moderate interactivity. Provides more engagement and interaction options.
Applying & Analyzing Knowledge,
Demonstrations, Practice Exercises
30%45%25%Interactive scenarios, gamification, practical exercises, custom/stock imagery, video coaching simulations, configurable animations, scenario-based UIs, clickable animations4-6 weeks
Level 3 Synthesis & EvaluationAdvanced eLearning with high interactivity. Offers sophisticated multimedia and simulation elements.
Complex Topics, Practice,
Experiential Learning
15%50%35%Themes & style, storytelling, visual engineering, hands-on explorations, games/gamification, video coaching simulations, various multimedia (custom/animated videos, 3D objects, avatars), 3D simulations6-8 weeks
Level 4 ImmersiveFully immersive eLearning with gamification elements. Provides immersive, game-like experiences.
Complex Procedures,
– In-Depth Scenarios
0%60%40%Fully immersive 3D environments, learning simulations,
AR/VR experiences, high-end animations, games/gamification, video coaching simulations, gamified templates, animated characters
8-12 weeks

Content Readiness Tiers

The amount of content you have prepared will also affect the development timeline and cost. Here are some common content readiness tiers offered by eLearning development companies:

Tier 0:
Starting from Scratch
The development company will help you gather information from different places, talk to experts, do research, and create the entire course material. If you’re starting from scratch, don’t worry! We’ll find information from various sources, talk to experts inside your organization, do research, and use other methods to create everything needed for your course.
Tier 1:
Partial Content Available
You have a bit of content already, but there are important parts missing. The development company will help fill these gaps by talking to people, doing research, and writing more material. While you have some content to start with for the eLearning course, there are still some big gaps between what you have and what’s needed to finish the project. Our team will talk to people, do research, and write new material to fill in these gaps.
Tier 2:
Good Starting Point
You already have most of the content, but it needs some changes, updates, and organizing. We might also need to work with experts to make sure everything is complete and correct. At this stage, you’re off to a good beginning. While most of the content is there, we’ll help by doing extra research, writing, and collaborating with SMEs to fill in any gaps and make improvements.
Tier 3:
Content Ready for Development
You have everything required for the course, so the development company can start making the eLearning course. You’ve gathered all the content needed for the courseware and are ready to give it to us! At this point, the content is prepared for our team to begin designing. We may only need a few hours with an SME to understand the content well enough to start creating your learning solution.
Tier 4:
Ready-to-Go Storyboard
You give us a complete storyboard that doesn’t need any extra instructional design work. Everything, like the content, script, how it looks, how the pages work, the images, quizzes, and other design choices, are already planned out. At this level, you have a storyboard ready for us to use, and we don’t need to do any more instructional design. All the decisions about content, audio, visuals, page layout, images, quizzes, and other design aspects are already decided and written down.

Breakfree Consulting: Your eLearning Development Partner

Breakfree Consulting is a leading eLearning development company that can assist you with various aspects of eLearning course creation, we can also be a valuable partner for building your own internal capabilities. Here’s a look at how they can help:

Converting Legacy Training Materials: Breakfree Consulting can transform your existing PowerPoint presentations (PPTs) and other legacy training materials into engaging and interactive eLearning courses. This process can revitalize your training content and improve learner engagement. We also provide consulting services to guide you on best practices for converting your materials internally.

Building Internal eLearning Development Capacity: Breakfree Consulting offers various resources to empower your team to design and develop eLearning courses in-house. This may include:

  • Workshops and Training: We conduct workshops on various eLearning design and development topics, equipping your team with the skills to create effective courses.
  • Mentorship and Coaching: Breakfree Consulting provide mentorship and coaching services to your internal eLearning team, offering ongoing guidance and support as they develop their expertise.
  • Content Templates and Tools: Breakfree Consulting offer pre-designed templates, storyboard examples, and eLearning authoring tool recommendations to streamline your internal course development process.

Consulting for the Right Solutions: Even if you plan to develop your eLearning courses in-house, Breakfree Consulting can still be a valuable partner. We provide consulting services to help you with:

  1. Needs Assessment: Identify your training needs and learning objectives.
  2. Course Design and Storyboarding: Plan the structure and flow of your eLearning courses.
  3. Technology Selection: Choose the right eLearning authoring tools and Learning Management Systems (LMS) for your needs.
  4. Quality Assurance: Ensure your eLearning courses meet industry standards and learning objectives.

Contractual Options We offer various contractual options to fit your specific needs. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Project-Based Contracts: Hire Breakfree Consulting for specific tasks, such as converting legacy training materials or developing a single eLearning course.
  2. Retainer Agreements: Secure ongoing support from Breakfree Consulting for a set period. This could include a combination of services, such as consulting hours, access to resources, and periodic reviews.
  3. Hybrid Approach: Combine project-based work with ongoing consulting support to leverage Breakfree Consulting’s expertise for specific courses while building your internal capabilities.

Conclusion: Invest in a Future-Ready Workforce

Developing a custom eLearning course isn’t just an expense; it’s a strategic investment in the knowledge and skills of your workforce. By understanding cost factors and design options, you can create an impactful training program that aligns with your budget. Breakfree Consulting provides a customizable solution, whether you need a complete development partner or a trusted advisor to guide your internal team. Our expertise and resources can empower you to create high-quality eLearning that fosters learner engagement and drives measurable business results.

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