When to Use eLearning Templates – and When Not To – Part Two

In Part One of this post, we discussed 5 great reasons to use a pre-built eLearning template. To follow-up in Part Two, we’re now going to explore 5 reasons when a custom solution is in your best interest.

5 Reasons You Need a Custom Solution:

  1. Pre-built templates are a set of standardized screens/layouts, navigation elements, and interaction types that are pre-determined. Sometimes they cannot be customized or have limited customization capabilities. You may not be able to add more tabs, buttons, or create different page layouts. You may not be able to incorporate your corporate branding such as logos, colors, fonts, or styles without limitations. You may not have the option to change the way feedback displays, questions are scored, or easily send question results to a Learning Management System (LMS).

    If these are not concerns for your project and you can work within the realm of the template as-is, there is no reason to not use a template. However, if you do need to make changes so your course will work within the template, you may be trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it certainly may not be easy to accomplish and in some cases, it’s not worth the time and frustration.
  2. If you are creating a multifaceted course (e.g., branching scenarios with intrinsic feedback) a template may be more of a hindrance than help. Most templates available for purchase will not include complex branching hierarchies, delayed feedback responses, and complicated tracking.  In this situation, developing a custom set of templates and interactions for your course makes more sense. 
  3. Custom eLearning design and development is built with your learning and development goals always in the forefront. You can build your own set of templates to use that work for your course structure, your target audience, and your unique training and educational needs. If you need help, consider hiring an eLearning solutions team to assist you with the overall design and even develop custom templates for you so you can focus on the content and ensure your target audience receives training that works. Pre-built templates are not the answer to your problems in this situation. 
  4. You shouldn’t use a pre-built template if you have to make your course “fit the template.” Ideally, it should be the other way around. Your template (pre-built or custom-built) should “fit your course.” While we all want to create courses quickly to satisfy deadlines, keep clients happy, etc., your courses have to be effective or they are essentially worthless. 
  5. Pre-built templates can stifle an instructional designer’s creativity. It can limit your ability to create engaging, unique interactivity. It can also inhibit presenting content in a manner that makes sense for your audience vs. staying within the boundaries of a pre-built template. 

 

Obviously your decision to use or not to use an eLearning template is a personal one which can be dictated by many factors such as time, cost, client requirements, etc. Hopefully this post gives you some things to think about during your consideration process and will help you reach a decision that works for you and your target audience.

What do you think? What are your personal experiences using pre-built templates, both positive and negative. Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

Have questions about custom eLearning development and/or templates? Drop us a line and we’ll try to help!