eLearning : Generic or Customized Courses?


In the field of online training courses or eLearning, there coexists a number of training solutions. There are in fact thousands of online training courses to choose from these days, those called generic or shelf content as well as those customized to each company’s needs. It is then appropriate to ask the following question: How does one chose between these two training options?

Generic content are modules which are immediately useable upon acquiring them. They are based on general themes like office automation, foreign languages, management, etc., which target a wider audience. They are adapted to employees looking to increase their level of competency or obtain a certificate or diploma. There are no delays in starting these training programs given the way they are readily available and immediately useable. In addition, they do not require any internal resources and are very affordable. These programs’ first limitations lie in how they do not offer content adapted to the specific needs of each company across predetermined themes. Their other limitation is that it can be difficult to find generic courses in the format or language of your choice.

Customized or tailor-made content answers to the demand of companies to offer training programs that are catered to their needs meet their expectations. The production of customized online training programs becomes useful as soon as a company is looking to train its employees across themes that matter to them: its activities, its trades, its office policies, its work environment, etc. Content is adapted to a preset size of the group on all subjects that mesh with the modules that make up eLearning. That being said, the first drawback of customized training programs are delays in production which can often be considerable (from several weeks to several months depending on the scope of the project) and these often also require the use of internal resources (content specialist, approvals, etc.), even if this process is outsourced to an external company. Another negative point is the associated costs which can escalate in a hurry. Customized training programs are ideal for companies whose aim is to train a certain number of employees in order to make this process profitable. Generally speaking, that minimum number is around 100 employees. This method’s final hurdle regards updates. Given its high costs and production delays, the decision to produce customized content is made for companies that will not require frequent updates seeing as how such updates would require a modification process that would entail both additional time and costs.

Going back to our initial question of how to decide between generic and customized training programs, it really boils down to the needs of the company in question. The important thing is to answer the need for non-personalized and broad themes or operational issues within the organization. Whether the training program is off the shelf or tailor-made, we must consider the human element given that the trainer will be the one bringing the program to life. In both cases, it is important to implement a follow-up process within the program in order to ensure maximum performance.

Caroline Irrmann,  web editor