Looking to convert your in-class (ILT) courses online, or to expedite the on-boarding process and ensure all your bases are covered, well eLearning may be what you are looking for. Costs are always what you would be looking for, so here’s a breakdown

It was once estimated that the cost of an eLearning High Level Simulation Presentation (yes, some still call them “presentations”, not “online courses”) to be $7,183.00 (estimated average cost per hour of instruction). This is the highest level category and includes aspects of eLearning design using the full capabilities of interactive courseware. A high level of learner interactivity characterizes this level, with extensive branching capability and capable of real time event simulation. Is this cost low, or high?

With powerful and robust applications such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate it can be done at a fraction of the cost with potential greater learning outcomes and retention.

A simplified eLearning design cost estimator, and I stress “simplified”, can be found here: simplified eLearning design cost estimator. It’s actually pretty accurate from what I have experienced in corporate eLearning development.

You will need to estimate how long you would like your course to run for. For example, a 10 lesson course at 10 minutes per lesson would be 100 minutes (1.7 hours).

The additional resources below supported this article. The estimates in my Excel spreadsheet were comparable to the ones found in the list.

Back to the first question, low or high? We cant say without knowing how long. The estimate was from 2004, so inflation is a factor, but with new software it pretty much balances out. A very short course, 20 minute course may come in at $7Gs.

These resources may help you with your own time estimates.

- Bryan Chapman’s research on how long it takes to create learning
- Karl Kapp’s ASTD research on the time to create one hour of learning
- My time tracking template. In the future, this is what I hope to use for all time estimates as I increase my data for different types of projects. I’d rather have actual personal benchmarks instead of generic industry benchmarks.
- Adobe Captivate, TechSmith Camtasia Studio, Articulate Storyline: Production Timesby IconLogic. This estimate says that Captivate and Storyline development generally take 2 hours per finished minute to produce, or a ratio of 120:1. That’s not including writing a script or recording audio. Chapman’s estimate is closer to 20:1 for the authoring/programming section, so there’s a pretty large discrepancy here.
- IconLogic’s Captivate Time Estimator. This is a free interactive PDF download, but it requires registration. Answer questions about factors that affect development. Using this estimate for a 3 hour course, I got a the total time is 562 hours instead of the 381 based on Chapman’s estimate. That’s closer to Chapman’s mid-range estimate for a Level 2 course (187:1).
- Estimating Time and Costs in Instructional Design: Don Clark’s overview of multiple sources with time estimates. The Chapman averages cited are from an older survey than the one I cited above
- http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/costs.html