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Prepared-Made Vs. Customized eLearning Options

eLearning Design And Development

The demand for online learning solutions in different areas has skyrocketed. In fact, we have seen the emergence of several eLearning platforms like Byju’s, Udemy, Unacademy, and Coursera.

According to Reuters, the global online learning market is projected to hit $275.10 billion in value by 2022. The corporate online education industry grew by 900% from 2001 to 2017, and at least 42% of companies that used learning apps saw a significant increase in profits according to data from the eLearning industry.

eLearning is more environmentally friendly than face-to-face learning. “Distance learning courses use 87% less energy and release 85% less CO2 than full-time campus-based courses,” according to a study by The Open University. There is not an iota of doubt that online learning is the way of the future.

It is certain that eLearning is going to be the next big thing and will be a highly profitable business in the decades to come. However, the biggest concern that puts the eLearning entrepreneurs in a huge dilemma is: Should they build a custom eLearning solution or buy a ready-made one?

The development of an eLearning application is a time-consuming and often costly process that pays off as students become more involved and inspired. Smartphones were in the possession of Generation Z children from the moment they were born. Allowing them to use their smartphones while studying is the most effective way to improve their academic performance. The benefits of incorporating an educational app into your learning process are undeniable. In this article, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of both types of eLearning solutions. If you choose the latter choice, we will look at how to create a learning app in greater depth.

What Is The Concept Of Custom eLearning Software?

A custom eLearning solution is created from the ground up to meet the specific goals and needs of an entrepreneur or anyone else who wants to use eLearning for business, training, customer education, or blended learning. The functionality of the application and the eLearning framework change depending on the scope of the implementation goals.

The business model, corporate culture, and monetization goals all influence the needs of each company. An entrepreneur would not be able to find a ready-made implementation of such models. For solutions to train workers, custom eLearning software creation is the best option. In order to incorporate corporate eLearning within an organization, you’ll need custom solutions.

Regardless of the range of objectives, the custom eLearning production process is the same. Whatever your objectives are, you must take a similar approach in order to obtain your custom eLearning solution. You can either do it yourself or hire an eLearning production firm to do it for you. Your program will be built from the ground up in either case.

How Do You Build A Custom eLearning Program?

1. Decide Your Niche

Learning apps can be developed in a variety of ways in the education industry. You might want to design a personalized education system for a specific group of people. Let’s assume you want to build a reading and writing application for primary school students. Perhaps, you would like to let newbie athletes choose the best eLearning platform for learning more about diet and exercise. You could develop an eLearning software product that includes a variety of courses in a variety of subjects with varying levels of complexity and length.

It is also a good idea to build an AI chatbot to assist your users in learning languages or solving math problems. It may also be used to investigate internal processes during onboarding and to assess employee competency. Educational apps come in a variety of formats. So, what is it going to be? Is there such a thing as a language-learning app? Is it a forum for self-study? Perhaps a database of digital literature? The possibilities are limitless, and all of them may be extremely beneficial to anyone if you consider their needs.

2. Focus On The Concept

Create your idea before you begin designing educational software. Multiplicity, marketing, geography, identity, connectivity, time, and price are the 7 product dimensions to consider for your eLearning application:

  1. Multiplicity
    You should begin by determining what your product should be. Should it be a stand-alone piece of software or part of a larger educational system? If you are creating Learning Management Systems for a larger online learning network, for example, you would be constrained by the latter’s expectations and specifications. If you create a gamified program for children to learn math, on the other hand, you can do anything you want.
  2.  Advertising
    Now you must determine if your software will be available only to a select group of people or to the public; for example, you are working on a language learning app and want to make it widely available. However, if you are creating an internal education management framework for a specific school, you will want to keep it private.
  3. Geographical details
    Another important decision to make is whether your target audience would be global or limited to a specific geographic location. If your app will only be available to a select group of people, you can tailor it to a specific geographic area.
  4. Identity
    Even more, you may want to decide whether to tailor the software to a specific person. If your product is aimed at athletes, for example, you should provide them with the knowledge that is important to them. If it is a site that offers online courses in a variety of subjects and topics, however, you should keep the app as impartial as possible.
  5. Communication
    Moving on, you must determine if the information flow will be unidirectional or bidirectional when it comes to communication. The contact will be one-way if your online learning software is limited to lectures. If you want your users to be able to take tests, answer questions, or talk with one another, you will need a two-way information flow.
  6. Appropriate time
    You must determine if your app’s users can communicate with it in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. If your app has a chat room or an online conferencing service, for example, your users will be able to communicate in real time. You will encourage asynchronous interaction if your app has a discussion forum or some other means of communication that does not require an immediate answer. The first choice teaches students how to communicate more effectively and think faster, while the second allows them to think about their ideas more thoroughly.
  7. Value
    The final thing is to consider if your app should be free or paid, and if so, whether in-app purchases should be available. You must determine whether monetization is feasible based on your goal and target audience. If you are creating an online dictionary, for example, you could make it free to use but charge for certain premium features. If you create a translator, there is no point in charging for it since there are so many rivals that offer their services for free. Instead, you can make money from ads. If your learning app will have any unique courses or tools, however, you can charge your users to use it.

 3. Form A team

You must select your team based on what your product should be, what your time and budget constraints are for creating an educational app, and what special features are needed. It is critical that the developers understand how to make learning apps, so take a close look at their work. You’ll need a team of experts to help you with the creation of an educational app. If you want to use AR/VR, you will need to find professionals who specialize in the field. If you want to use Machine Learning and AI in your app, you will need to employ people who are knowledgeable in these fields.

Another thing to think about is whether you should employ freelancers or an agency. While the first alternative is more cost-effective, the second is more dependable. You should also talk about payment strategy at this stage. Do you want to sign a Statement of Work or do you prefer to work on a “Time and Material” (T&M) basis? In the first example, you will know a fixed price ahead of time, allowing you to prepare your budget. However, a fixed price normally covers all of the risks that the vendor could face, so it may end up being higher than the T&M final price. In the latter case, you will have the ability to devote more time and resources to improving the product or introducing new functionality.

4. Perform A Stage Of Exploration

The discovery stage of eLearning application development is critical. Have you decided on the design of your app and who you will collaborate with? Now, do extensive research to assess available applications and eLearning tools, as well as to better understand the users’ requirements. You will be able to rethink your concept before beginning the educational app creation process if you do so.

You will learn if the market is underserved or overserved, if there are any additional features you would like to see, what makes a good education app in your industry, and which pitfalls to avoid. It is critical to execute the discovery stage after you have hired your team because a competent market analyst can spot opportunities or potential problems that you might overlook otherwise. Furthermore, you should be aware that your original product concept is unlikely to survive.

You can need to rethink your target audience, communication model, or pricing strategy after the discovery stage. It is a normal part of educational app creation that aims to enhance the result, so if you trust your development partners, do not be afraid to accept the improvements they propose. If it’s a chatbot, you’ll need to choose which channels it should be able to access. As a result, your partners will assist you in selecting the technological stack that will allow them to create the best-functioning application.

What Exactly Is Ready-To-Use eLearning Software?

The ready-to-use eLearning applications, which are also known as off-the-shelf eLearning solutions, are based on the concept of “one size fits all.” Software vendors invest their own time, money, commitment, and analysis into the creation of eLearning platforms and create solutions from the ground up. Vendors market these proven solutions to multiple clients as ready-made products.

To put it another way, ready-to-use eLearning solutions are the product of research into common business models, with the expectation that more entrepreneurs will follow suit. Ready-made solutions keep up with the latest industry developments, from incorporating popular features to incorporating the popular monetization platforms.

When you have a great business idea in place, then off-the-shelf solutions are the safest bet. For example, you might have noticed that Udemy or Byju’s is having a lot of success with the pay-per-course model for micro-courses. You could buy a ready-made Udemy or Byju’s clone, which may fetch you almost the same results. Spending a fortune on custom eLearning creation would be pointless if your aim is to build an eLearning application that may have most of the common features like Udemy. Purchasing a ready-made Udemy clone, on the other hand, can save you a lot of investment as far as money, time, and effort are concerned. Other ready-made solutions, such as Varsity Tutors Clone, Coursera Clone, and Udacity Clone are also available in the market, which can be bought off the shelf.

Which Is Better: Ready-Made eLearning Creation Or Custom eLearning Development? 

In terms of usability and cost, there is a major disparity between these 2 solutions. Let us look at the two solutions in more detail to see which one fits better in these circumstances.

Which One Is The Most Cost-Effective?

When compared to custom production, ready-made solutions are usually less expensive. The obvious explanation is that custom solutions are created exclusively for a client and cannot be resold. Ready-made solutions are marketed as a commodity, and the manufacturer is free to sell the same solutions to different customers. Furthermore, it is impossible to provide an exact cost estimate for custom eLearning applications. To provide an estimate, a software provider must consider factors such as complexity, money, time, testing, implementation, and maintenance. Whereas off-the-shelf options provide a precise calculation of fixed maintenance and support costs. As a result, pre-made solutions are much less expensive than custom eLearning production.

Which One Is Easier To Implement?

This issue has two sides to it. On the one hand, both are simpler for the entrepreneur to adopt because vendors now handle anything from production to implementation and maintenance. You do not have to be concerned with anything as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, there is this other side where both have a massive acquisition cost difference.

Despite the vendor’s assistance, there are few variables that they cannot manage. Because of this, a new custom solution is often prone to errors or bugs. These problems are only resolved over the course of time as the program matures after extensive field use. That means your company will be used to test custom applications created specifically for you.

The ready-made solution is sold as a commodity by vendors. As a result, they thoroughly test the application before launching it in the market. A more polished and robust approach is one that has been on the market for some time. You do not have to do any of the tests yourself. As a result, ready-made solutions are more straightforward and easier to execute and deploy. They are much more bug-free and reliable.

Which One Is More Customizable?

When creating some type of business software, the golden rule is to make it customizable enough to cater to future needs. That is, the program should be able to accommodate a simpler way to change the code, add innovative features, delete unnecessary features, and redesign the UI if required. Customizable software provides code access, which allows any professional developer to make the necessary changes.

If you build custom software to meet the current eLearning platform needs, it will only be considered customizable if it allows for simple changes without breaking existing codes. It must adhere to standard coding practices so that everyone can recognize the codes and make the necessary changes at a later stage.

Whereas, when we talk about the ready-made software, we must ensure that it is customizable by ensuring it has open-source code access and adheres to modular coding practices. In the market, there are a variety of SaaS-based off-the-shelf solutions. Be aware that such solutions are not open for customizations as they do not offer access to the source code. Only self-hosted eLearning solutions and open-source code-based solutions are the ones that can be customized. As a result, if vendors have source code access to change the code base, both methods are highly customizable.

Which One Is More Accommodating To Third-Party Integrations?

The philosophy behind third-party integration is to avoid “reinventing the wheel.” When a similar solution is already available on the market, rather than designing it from scratch, you can simply use it and make the necessary changes to it. However, through application programming interface integration, you can incorporate a ready-made third-party solution into your project (API Integration).

If you want an efficient LMS (Learning Management System), then either you can integrate Moodle or any other LMS. Unless you have a very specific requirement, you do not need to build your LMS from the scratch. Third-party integrations can be made easier with custom eLearning development that includes source code access. Anyone can incorporate workable APIs into third-party solutions using common coding practices.

However, this must be done right from the beginning when you must be planning the program blueprint. When designing ready-made solutions from the ground up, the vendors apply the same approach. Before choosing one, you can test apps for the same. If one solution fails to meet your needs, you should look for another one. As most of the ready-made eLearning software supports API integrations, we can make custom implementations as well. When it comes to third-party integration, we have plenty of alternatives and options available, all we need is to find a suitable vendor.

Which One Allows You To Upgrade More Easily?

The word “easier improvements” is a subjective term. The choice of a solution is influenced by several factors. Before you compare the two methods for ease of update, you must first understand what “ease” means to you:

  • Do you want easy access to the source code so that you can perform updates on your own?
  • Do you like the convenience of obtaining upgrades from your vendor via OTA?

Custom solutions are easier in this respect if you want easy access to the source code. If you choose self-hosted turnkey solutions, you should anticipate a similar degree of ease in accessing source code as you would with ready-made solutions. However, SaaS-based ready-made solutions are your best bet if you want your vendor to deliver the upgrade via OTA.

Whereas custom eLearning development allows you to edit the source code and perform modifications on your own, ready-made implementations are the most convenient way to receive vendor-provided updates. Always keep in mind that updating a ready-made solution can be a difficult task if you have made customizations. To install updates on a personalized ready-made eLearning solution, you will need to enlist the help of your vendor.

Which One Provides A Significant Competitive Advantage?

When you use software that is specifically designed and built for your business requirements, you can take advantage of certain exceptional features that others would not consider. You can create unique features to give yourself a competitive edge over others who do not use your custom platform.

Ready-made solutions, on the other hand, do not have that level of exclusivity. The functionality they have for your company is shared with other competitors in your domain. You must structure the business processes around the pre-built features.

Ready-made solutions, on the other hand, have been extremely cutting-edge in recent years. Aside from the standard features, these solutions can also be customized to include niche features. You can add exclusive functionality to your ready-made program if you have access to the source code. As a result, if you have a particular business concept and eLearning platform functionality in mind, custom solutions provide the best competitive advantages. You can expect a fair level of exclusivity from ready-made solutions if vendors include the source code.

Final Thoughts

Software development, like the eLearning industry, is a massive market. Ready-made solutions now offer expertise and control comparable to custom eLearning solutions thanks to increasing needs and creativity. In our view, you should first make a list of your objectives and specifications, then you should look for a ready-made solution that promises to easily fulfill those requirements.

Then, you should see if you can use customization to implement the missing specifications. We prefer a ready-made solution that meets your requirements while still allowing you to customize it to cater to your business needs. However, if a ready-made solution is unable to accommodate your primary business goals in any way, we would strongly consider custom eLearning solutions.

Finally, providing the best user experience and better ways to represent stakeholders should be the primary objective. If a ready-made solution cannot provide what you need, don’t be afraid to spend a little more on custom production.

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