When your organization needs eLearning programs but doesn’t have an internal program in place, external licensing of eLearning may be a good choice. Many eLearning and LMS providers offer external training that you can use as part of your organization’s learning and development program. Let’s take a basic look at external licensing, as well as discuss what you’ll need to create your eLearning program using this approach.
First, what is external licensing of eLearning? In the simplest terms, external licensing means that you choose and “purchase” courses and programs “off the shelf” from vendors. These vendors, in turn, host the learning, deliver it to your organization, and manage the content for you. We will examine benefits and potential obstacles of external licensing in our next discussion, but you may already see yours developing here.
So what does the external licensing “recipe” require? First, in terms of personnel, you’ll need your staff to choose and review courses and programs. This means that your staff should have, at the very least, assessed the audience for learning needs and outcomes. With this knowledge, your learning and development staff will be able to narrow down their choices of online courses and programs. Along with staff, you may need SME’s or stakeholders to review the courses, as well. After all, you probably do not want to roll out an eLearning program that does not meet the approval of SME’s or stakeholders.
Once you or your staff has narrowed down the choices, you’ll need to estimate how many learners will be accessing the courses or programs. This is a twofold piece of the process. First, you can estimate the cost with vendors using your estimate. Second, you can run the estimate by your internal IT department to verify that this number of learners can access outside applications at any given point in time.
There are, however, other decisions that you will need to make. What method will you use to deliver the training? Some vendors will host the learning program directly for you, which will require participants to directly access the vendor website. Or, if you have an LMS, you may want to have the vendor host through your system. Either way, you’ll still have to have a discussion with IT to determine if the organization’s technical infrastructure can handle the influx of users.
As a training and development decision-maker, you are probably accustomed to budgeting. But when it comes to licensing your content externally, you’ll have to build a budget based on the current year’s cost as well as coming years. For example, if the course you want to license costs $30 per user, you’ll probably want to create an estimate of how many users you’ll have in two or three years’ time. If your organization is in growth mode, this is an important aspect of your budget. And remember that the budget for external licensing of eLearning is similar to leasing a car: the amount you pay on a monthly basis will be recurring over time, with no eventual ownership of the content. Don’t get confused by a vendor using the term “purchase” to describe your arrangement. What you are essentially doing is paying a recurring fee to use the content. In addition, you should also find out if your fees cover updates to content, especially if the content is changeable in nature.
One of the other things you’ll need is an overall process for your external licensing approach. In other words, map out what you intend to do before you ask your staff to do it. Remember that you’ll want to have an analysis or assessment on the front end, conducted by your staff on an internal basis. Once you have this information, you’ll want your staff to begin looking at courses and vendors before you bring in your SME’s and stakeholders. Give that group your best choices so that they are not bogged down with too many vendors and courses to review. Determine your review and approval process, and remember to include cost in that process. There’s no sense in finding a course everyone loves only to discover that you cannot afford it. The point here is take the time to create a process for external licensing.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of external licensing, let’s look discuss the benefits and potential obstacles of this approach.
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