Building high-quality, effective courses is neither an easy nor a cheap undertaking. There are considerations you need to factor in along the way about tools you’ll use, how you’ll deliver material, and speed of execution (just to list three). Plus, once it’s done, there’s the question of maintaining and updating the large bundle of courses required for modern workforces.
As a member of the D2L Learning and Creative Services group, I want to share my thoughts on the potential pitfalls that can come with in-house development and the benefits associated with hiring a team like ours to build out your premier course content.
Quick Recap—What Role Do Content Vendors Play?
The role of the content vendor is to facilitate the creation of course content, whether that be face‑to‑face, fully online, or blended models. Typically, teams will have:
- A project manager who oversees time, scope, and budget.
- An instructional designer who aligns your learning outcomes, assessment, and content strategy to make an engaging learning experience.
- A graphic designer who will make the course come alive with effective visuals and sound strategies in user interface and user experience.
- A course developer/multimedia team that assembles the materials, creates videos, comes up with custom learning activities, and makes sure the course is responsive, is created with accessibility in mind, and works well in the learning management system.
A good-quality team significantly eases the effort of course creation and puts out high-quality learning that improves learner outcomes.
5 Benefits Content Vendors Bring to the Table
1. Expertise in Each Role
At D2L, we hire for both design and development roles. This means our instructional designers don’t make graphics, and our developers and graphic designers aren’t the ones deciding the most effective way to authentically assess a lawyer for professional designation.
Put simply: Expertise in each role produces a higher-quality output.
As a team working within D2L, we’re also experts when it comes to the LMS space, especially Brightspace, and can offer a more cohesive design strategy. You get the maximum benefit of a strong development team that really understands how to make the most of your LMS.
2. Communication with a Single Team
Hiring a series of freelancers may save you some money, but the logistics surrounding communication could quickly become a nightmare. The reality is that the project management of course building can be a full-time job. Having a consistent, united team can save months of wasted time and result in fewer mistakes along the way.
3. Flexible Solutions
Most in-house teams tend to stick to a simple solution that doesn’t always deliver the best outcome based on limited abilities. While we prefer to build custom HTML templates to provide consistent, accessible, responsive, and engaging (CARE) content, we are comfortable working with a variety of third‑party tools like Articulate 360, Adobe Captivate, Twine, H5P, Sketchfab, Timeline JS, and countless others. In short, we aren’t locked down to one solution since our team goes from rapid authoring to full custom builds based on our expertise and client budget.
4. Pay Only for the Work Done
Hiring a team internally means you constantly need to have work for them to do, even if there aren’t any courses on the to-do list. Content vendors like us charge by the project, so once the project is done, that’s it. This helps you get the most out of your budget so you can pay for work on the projects where you need deep, specific expertise.
5. Cost per Course
Instructional designers can have amazing experience bringing content and courses to life for people of all ages, including adult learners. Often, that commands a high price tag. The average salary for an instructional designer is $70,000/year. This doesn’t include benefits ($30,000/year), cost to hire ($5,000), the time it takes to hire (2–3 months), and the time it takes to onboard a new team member to a high proficiency (>3 months).
This, ultimately, is why partnering with an experienced content vendor is worth the investment. You get the expertise of a full, seasoned team, plus the flexibility to focus on projects that will make the biggest impact: improving your team’s knowledge and productivity so they can drive business forward.