Image: David Castillo Dominici
It's easy to overlook all of the hidden costs of in-person instructor-led training. There's real time and cost involved in putting actual bums on actual seats. Just start to jot down the costs of getting people into a room together, and it's easy to see how the prices quickly shoot up.
Training material costs
- Space rental and overhead
- Day rates
- Instructor travel (airfare, taxis, hotel, tips)
- Learner travel (airfare, taxis, hotel, tips)
- Food (breakfast, snacks, lunch, drinks)
- Presentation equipment
I can keep going, but you get the point, right? The instant you start gathering people into a room together, it costs a lot of money.
One of the strongest business cases for e-learning is for lowering training costs. That's why so many companies turn to e-learning, especially when they have ongoing programs, a large number of people to train or have a geographically dispersed workforce. That was the rationale behind a government-led project Talance completed for a division of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It's cheaper to bring people from across the state together online.
Time involved in training
It's easy to see how the kinds of things you can buy at your local Staples drain the coffers. One item that's often neglected from "should we move to e-learning" calculations is the cost of time. Instructor-led training simply takes longer than e-learning.
"My company has found that on-ground courses that move to eLearning take about half the 'seat time' in their eLearning format," Judy Unrein says in her article Overcoming Objections to eLearning in Learning Solutions magazine.
Unrein, who is an instructional designer for Nike and who has an M.Ed. in Instructional Design from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, goes on to say that one cause is because an online course is more streamlined. All of the "nice to know" filler information that instructors share in classrooms has been removed by the time it goes online.
Minimizing financial risk
Live trainings are also critically scheduled, and the margin of error is much narrower. For example, one of our clients, a department of a New York-based college, recently had an in-person event where the instructor didn't show up. He simply forgot, and there was a room of people clearing their throats waiting for the star to show. They rescheduled for the following week, duplicating all the costs of the lost event.
Problems can happen online too, but when mistakes of this magnitude happen in person, the financial drain is much higher.
While every program is different, the savings of an e-learning program vs. instructor-led training can be significant. Every program considering moving training online should carefully research hidden costs of bringing a room of people together.