Custom or off-the-shelf: which is best for Diversity & Inclusion online training?

We have recently seen a surge in demand for diversity & inclusion online training, across both custom digital learning and off-the-shelf courses. Often, our clients are keen to explore how they can make more of an impact with their online training or are introducing diversity and inclusion training programs into the workplace for the first time in their organisation.

Asking adults to ‘think differently’ is challenging, so you need the best solution for your people. You may be considering whether to invest in a custom or off-the-shelf solution. It goes without saying that it depends on your overall objectives and what outcomes you want to achieve: you know which solution would represent the best online diversity training for your company. This will play a key part in the decision.

There are though, practical factors to take into consideration when deciding the best approach. To enable leading with effective communication, we have outlined 7 practical factors to help you choose the right approach for your organisation.

1 - How many people need diversity & inclusion online training?

Do you have hundreds or many thousands of people to train? If you have a few hundred or less, off-the-shelf diversity & inclusion online learning is going to be the preferred route. That’s because when numbers are low, off-the-shelf is more economical than investing in a custom solution.

That’s not to say that off-the-shelf can’t be used for large numbers. We have a client delivering Skill Pill micro-learning courses to many thousands of learners.

Typically, we find that those wanting custom elearning have over 10,000 people. It can be for fewer employees though if you have budget and very specific training needs that need to be addressed. See points 3 and 4.

2 - How quickly do you want to roll out the D&I online training?

If time is of essence and you want to get the understanding of diversity out to your people very quickly, then off-the-shelf diversity and inclusion training is probably the better solution. Custom digital learning modules are likely to take weeks or months to create even with rapid authoring tools.

The reason for this is that there are several phases to creating effective digital learning, and it requires valuable input from client-side Subject Mater Experts and project stakeholders throughout creation.

Creating custom elearning typically involves these phases:

  1. Discovery - to better understand the challenges your organisation faces and explore solutions to meet these
  2. Learning design – creating a design specification, deciding on media requirements i.e. illustration, video or animation and writing the content working with Subject Matter Experts
  3. Visual design – creating graphics and media resources so it aligns with your brand
  4. Development – producing and testing the course made ready for deployment

Custom digital learning can be accelerated , but it is never going to be as quick as off-the-shelf courses which are ready-to-go and can be deployed straight away.



3 - What’s your budget for diversity & inclusion online training?

Do you have for example, $20K or $60K plus to spend? A series of off-the-shelf courses are likely to be cheaper initially although you need to consider future costs. Typically, ready-to-go courses are sold on an annual recurring licence so if the annual cost is $20K and you run the courses over 3 years, the total cost is $60K.

A custom digital learning experience is always going to be more expensive due to the bespoke production time involved (as explained in point 2), but you will own it outright and not incur future costs. .

4 - How specific are your training needs?

Do you have D & I training needs that are unique to your organisation? Where are you on your diversity and inclusion journey? Is your tone of voice and branding important to you? You may have a clear program or campaign with messages that are important to share. You may need some custom elements, like inclusive leadership training, to communicate specific messages to your learners. Or there may be behaviours you want to specifically target.

Generally, the more specific the requirement, the more likely custom digital learning is going to be the solution. It can include your brand, real-life scenarios, case studies and images or videos of people in their real environments to resonate with your learners.

5 - Is the digital learning going to a global audience?

Do you have hundreds or thousands of people in different locations across the world? If so, you may need to have your online learning translated. Both custom digital learning and off-the-shelf learning can cater for this. Skill Pill micro-learning courses are, for example, translated as standard into over 20 languages.

Custom online courses, whether they fall under diversity & inclusion online training, or any other learning intervention, can be translated into any language in the world and localised to address specific needs of your audiences.

6 - Do you have a Diversity & Inclusion expert in house?

If you do have a D & I expert in-house, then custom elearning can work well. Learning experience designers can liaise with your Subject Matter Expert (SME) to transform content into an engaging learning experience . One consideration though is that you will need to make sure they have the time available for meetings and reviews when working with your elearning provider.

If you don’t have an SME, external expertise may need to be brought in so there can be additional cost implications. An alternative is to use off-the-shelf provider, but just make sure the content has been created from a reputable source, is kept up to date and meets your people’s needs.

7 - Could you have a hybrid of both custom and off-the-shelf and elearning?

Yes, this can work particularly if you are planning a learning campaign over time. So, for example, you can have introductory custom modules on Diversity and Inclusion tailored to your organisation, followed by Skill Pill micro-learning courses to build on skills and awareness over the subsequent months. This hybrid module can combine mandatory diversity & inclusion online training for the introduction with self-directed micro-learning that your people can choose based on the skills they want to develop.

Taking your diversity & inclusion online training forward

Whether you are thinking of a custom or off-the-shelf for your next Diversity and Inclusion online training, our Learning Experience Consultants can work with you to ensure the learning is effective for your people. Creating a culture of belonging isn’t something that can happen overnight but ensuring you have the right elearning will provide a good foundation to build upon.


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