Why off the shelf content could be a key ingredient in your e-learning blend
It can be difficult having the right e-learning content available to fill critical learning gaps at the point of need, and to support a variety of different learning styles. However, if carefully selected, best-in-class learning packages can deliver the results you seek.
From compliance training, IT essentials and core business skills, to management and leadership development courses, off the shelf (OTS) content courses have been developed hugely over recent years and now offer first-class video, animation and other interactive learning elements to inspire, immerse and engages today’s learners effectively.
It’s not surprising then that the worldwide market for generic learning content is growing and with more online training titles available than ever – 63% of learning and development leaders say they are using off the shelf content  – organisations are turning to trusted learning providers to help them develop curated online learning solutions, expertly blended to support key learning needs.
What are the advantages of off the shelf content?
OTS content offers a whole host of benefits.
It’s convenient and economical
The cost of licensing an OTS package will generally be cheaper than bespoke content. For the same price of a few bespoke courses you can have a whole library of knowledge at your fingertips, ready to support employees at the drop of a hat. You also won’t have to worry about maintenance and updates, which is particularly important for compliance training – updates driven by regulatory changes will be managed swiftly by the content vendor.
The right OTS content offers the promise of a tried-and-tested solution. When you buy into a library of content, each course is presented in a consistent manner which means the learner doesn’t have to relearn how to navigate their way through the content – instead they can complete it quickly and get back to their regular workflow.
Every OTS learning content provider has its reputation to live up to. The publisher’s reputation is laid bare when their name is on the box. They must maintain their standards and ensure they deliver products fitting to their reputation.
It’s ready to go
One of the greatest benefits of OTS content is that you can have it tomorrow. This makes it particularly attractive for the urgent learning requirements that many organisations face today.
It’s better than ever
Modern OTS content has transformed from the all-too-familiar ‘click-next’ structure, thanks to better development techniques, improved technology and the skills of today’s instructional designers. Many courses now contain a lot of the ‘bells and whistles’ that you may expect in bespoke learning including simple gamification, storytelling, top-class videos, animation and interactive learning scenarios. The global online learning market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 7.2% over the next decade, and is expected to reach approximately £243 billion in less than 10 years .
Why build when you can buy?
The new generation of OTS e-learning content packages are a world away from their awkward predecessors. With video on the rise to create an emotional connection with learners, and simple gamification techniques boosting motivation and engagement levels, the best solutions in the marketplace are delivering greatly improved results. Some are even customisable, offering a more individual experience without the cost and other challenges associated with full bespoke packages.
This leaves the all-important questions: when to build and when to buy? The beauty of bespoke content is that you get exactly what you want – a solution that meets the personal needs of your learners and business, designed to reflect your brand values, engage specific learning demographics and to address specific learning goals. Bespoke content can also be rolled out whenever and to anybody you want without any licensing issues which can be more cost-efficient if you have a very large audience.
But for those opportunities where the content is more general, OTS remains a solid option. Experienced users of OTS believe that if 80% or more of the OTS content is relevant, then OTS is still an attractive choice. Any nuances in the remaining 20% can be addressed by adding some complementary content in another format for a holistic blended learning approach.
A word of caution
A convenient and affordable OTS package can support specific skills development at the point of need, making it a very valid feature in today’s modern learning strategies. However, a trusted adviser should be able to assist its conjunction with traditional classroom teaching methods, or bespoke content courses, for a well-rounded and holistic approach; this ensures that your learners have access to the best learning methods for optimum engagement and information retention rates.
 Towards Maturity, ‘Learning Benchmark Report’, 2016-17
 Research and Markets, 2017