Video40- Custom eLearning Courses Deliver Vs. Off-The-Shelf Courses

What do you prefer Custom eLearning Courses Vs. Off the Shelf?
What are the pros and cons of Custom eLearning Courses and Off the Shelf Courses?

In this article you will learn the advantages and disadvantages of each mode.
By Suresh Kumar DN

How can you get past the age-old dilemma whether to go for custom eLearning courses or to simply purchase off-the-shelf (OTS) courseware? In this article, I am sharing my view on why custom eLearning courses offer better value than off-the-shelf courses.

What’s The General Preference?

Many Learning Managers prefer to purchase OTS courses over custom eLearning courses to save costs. OTS courses are readily available and can be easily deployed. OTS learning is suitable when you need ‘on-the-go’ training for general topics such as negotiation skills, working with MS Word, and so on. OTS is a type of general prescription medicine that may alleviate the fever of a person in immediate need.

However, we just need to look around us to realize how much we love to personalize. Right from setting the ringtone, wallpaper, and application shortcuts on our brand new mobile phone to ordering the ‘make your own sundae’ at our preferred café, we prefer things the way we want them.

Our world today is all about personal preferences. In such a personalized environment, the way we impart learning should break away from the conventional ‘one-training-fits-all’ approach. Custom eLearning courses are designed and developed with a specific audience in mind, and catering solely to the business and training mandate of the organization. The growing popularity of custom eLearning courses bears testimony to this.

However, custom eLearning courses are not just about personalization, but much more. They do offer better value in more than one ways. We will explore this further down the article.


Evaluating the choices across various key parameters can help you arrive at the right decision. Here’s a summary of the key differences:

  • The structure of the learning in the OTS courses is such that it is in a ready-to-deploy format. Custom eLearning courses, on the other hand, need to be tailor-made to suit specific requirements.
  • In the OTS courses, the content is generic. For example, working with MS Word, or some soft skill topics such as communication skills. OTS courses also are built on safety, compliance, law, and regulations.
  • In custom eLearning courses, the topics that are chosen are induction, company products, code of conduct, specific skill sets required to work on a software or a project, and so on.
  • The budget for an OTS course is limited, whereas the budget for custom eLearning courses is high.

Advantages Of Each Mode: OTS vs Custom eLearning Courses

Off-The-Shelf Courses

  • The advantage of OTS courses is that they are comparatively cheaper and can be immediately deployed.

Custom eLearning Courses

  • Custom eLearning courses are comparatively costlier; however, the costs are offset in the long run due to better ROI. Customers get exactly what they paid for.
  • Customers own the courses and this makes it easier for them to make changes.
  • The biggest advantage is that custom eLearning courses are aligned to the company brand and that makes them more relevant to the learners.

Disadvantages Of Each Mode: OTS vs Custom eLearning Courses

OTS Courses

  • Some content can be irrelevant, inappropriate, or already known.
  • Learners may not complete the course.

Custom eLearning Courses

  • Consensus building among the stakeholders may impact the development timelines.


Custom eLearning courses score over OTS courses, as you can customize various aspects of the course through customizing the individual interactivities, CEO and management messages, knowledge check activities, the summative or final assessments, and host of other things which are not available in OTS courses.

What do you prefer Custom eLearning courses or OTS? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


By Suresh Kumar DN


About the author:

Suresh is a learning professional with 15 years of experience in strategizing and providing learning solutions for varied customer requirements. He works with several global customers to understand their learning and training needs and propose optimal learning solutions to enhance employees’ performance. He is the CEO of Tesseract Learning. He can be reached at

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