We work closely with an affiliate organisation who has offered us their compliance e-learning for free. Should I accept? What are the risks?
This is a great question. On the face of it, an organisation offering a copy of their e-learning for your use is a generous gesture. However, like all e-learning, there are stumbling blocks in relation to implementation and sustaining the e-learning. So, before accepting free e-learning, consider these five questions:
1. Will the e-learning work on your LMS?
E-Learning standards (AICC, SCORM) ain't really that standard, and it can't be assumed that an e-learning course that tracks on the LMS of the affiliate will track on yours. If you accept the free e-learning, be prepared to spend time and money making it work on your LMS. You may need to call in a SCOM specialist to work through the issues.
2. Is the e-learning contextual and accurate for your organisation?
Remember, the original intent of the e-learn was for the audience of the affiliate organisation and not yours. It is likely the e-learn will have content, language and visuals that are not consistent with your business. It is unlikely the affiliate will want to adapt it for your use. This means if you want to adapt it, you will need to get the source files from the affiliate. Not to mention, the e-learn may have been developed on a bespoke authoring tool that you can't access and edit from. So, review the e-learn for context and accuracy before accepting it.
3. Who will embed the e-learn into the organisation?
Just because the e-learn is free doesn't mean it shouldn't be formally implemented and embedded, just like an in-house e-learn. If you don't embed it, then it will not have had it's purpose established in the business. If it is not purposeful, then you probably shouldn't waste LMS administrator effort implementing the e-learn.
4. Who will check the e-learn for currency?
Depending upon the topic, some e-learning content can become quickly outdated, especially e-learning relating to legislation. You may find the affiliate will update their e-learning but may forget you have a copy, leaving you with unsound content. Any e-learning purchased or obtained from a third party should have an agreement in place ensuring regular content review and updates.
5. What are the quality risks?
Free e-learning can be enticing. But if it doesn't stack up against your usual quality parameters, then it shouldn't be introduced to your staff. Don't turn a blind eye on quality just because the e-learn is free.
The bottom line
When you accept a free e-learning offer, it is usually without the terms of agreement and guarantee expected from a supplier of e-learning for fee. These are the things you miss out on. So, be sure to weigh the effort and the risks before accepting free e-learning.