The True Cost of 1 Hour of Learning


It’s no secret that a lot of preparation work goes into creating training courses and classes.  But just how much time and money goes into creating 1 hour of Learning?

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17 Responses to “The True Cost of 1 Hour of Learning”

  1. KerryJ says:

    Hi there

    There is self-paced e-learning and instructor facilitated e-learning.

    I think this analysis not only isn’t clear on what is being compared in terms of the type of e-learning being compared to classroom instruction and that it doesn’t take into effect CBI over time for businesses with high turnover, specialised training needs, geographically dispersed staff, and refresher training for infrequently used systems & processes.

    I also feel your statement that “one should not neglect the value of direct contact with a tutor” to imply that e-learning by nature does not include contact with people. This is not inherent to all e-learning.

    In our organisation, instructors are very much part of the learning experience – responding to forum and blog posts, leading live chats and webinars and responding to email and phone calls.

    For our learners in regional and remote areas, or who work full time and have families and undertake e-learning in order to time shift – having access to e-learning is vital to progressing their professional development.

    Kind regards

    Online Learning Specialist
    Australian Institute of Social Relations

  2. This is incredibile! Can I have your permission to publish the graphic on my Educational business’s website?

  3. Cathy Dunham says:

    There are very big differences in the quantity and quality of instructor interaction when comparing classroom and eLearning. The value for the student definitely depends on the subject and learning objectives, as well as the learner’s knowledge base and expectations.

    One example might be college courses (I’m using personal experience here). Assuming that one realizes that they only get what they put into their course and are willing to do so, I found very little teaching from all instructors involved. Yes they can guide, give resouces and answer questions. But there is so much more left out versus when you have a real person sharing facetime, stories and body language. IMO, Elearning for college is simply having a project manager walk you thru course materials over a routine time period. Thats great if one cannot commit to completing a college-level book on their own. But for those of us who can, where is the ROI for paying for a course if we can do this on our own? For learning things applicable to my work, it was useless to pay $1500/course to have teachers comment on my posts and an automated program grade my quizzes and tests. I’m a Dean’s list student… but when my classes evolved to only elearning options, I dropped out halfway thru my Master’s degree. I’ve always been a perpetual student and learn even faster with the Internet… but I will continue to place much higher value on an instructor-led classroom than elearning courses for scholastic purposes. Plato got it right – way back then. BTW – I’m also a web developer.

    • Michael Brandl says:

      @Cathy – excellent points. It often times it seems that eLearning is little more than a modern day version of a correspondence course: here is “the information” (in old correspondence course it was a text book, today it is videos, simulations, etc), take a test (old days on paper and mail it in, today it is “learning outcomes” but the same idea) and we will tell you if you pass. Correspondence courses worked okay, if the person was dedicated…and they got as much out of it as they put into it…as you say, it is the same now with eLearning…have we really advanced? I don’t think so…the instructor-led classroom is has so many advantages that eLearning will never be able to duplicate.

  4. Virginia says:

    e-Learning is becoming so important. I hadn’t thought before of all the time involved in just putting the content together. I think that if e-learning can be mixed with one-on-one contact with a tutor when the student needs that little extra bit of help, it would be advantageous over just e-learning itself.

  5. Andrew says:

    Great visual! Love it! Would love to see a similar follow up comparing cost to execute and maintain. That would give folks a picture of ROI. Certainly it’s a broad model but for programs that would benefit from a blended approach rather than full conversion, a huge cost savings can occur when shaving off content from an ILT into an elearning if it doesn’t negatively impact the program.

    Also, would love to see inclusion of live-virtual learning. I’ve spent alot I time in that ecosystem and in my opinion it sits in the middle of ILT and eLearning in this model. Can get some of the benefits (and obstacles) of both approaches.

    Nice job!

  6. [...] The True Cost of 1 Hour of Learning via leanforward.com [...]

  7. Scott Hewitt says:

    Great graphic – interesting to see the numbers. 79 hours to complete a ‘basic’ elearning course is impressive. It would be great to see some course examples to compare against the numbers, thanks for sharing this. It really is good to review.

  8. [...] Ever wonder how much time and cost it takes to prepare for a course, whether in person or online?  Read some of the surprising statistics below about the real cost of custom elearning development: [...]

  9. [...] eLearning is cheaper than in class learning. Well, here is a infographic that shows all of the true cost of learning for a 1 hour eLearning course. This shows that there is actually MORE preparation that goes in to [...]

  10. [...] you can see, the cost of custom elearning development is not insignificant, by a long shot. This raises a host of questions…but I can only guess at [...]

  11. [...] finding what works best for your learning style.  Take a look at this interesting infographic from Leanforward.com and see what goes into creating 1 hour of  instructor led training and eLearning. I found this [...]

  12. Adam says:

    We recently wrote and interesting article that focuses around this area.

    Please check.


  13. […] illustrated cost of e-learning — According to an infographic published by Lean Forward, roughly 79 hours of work go into the creation of one hour of […]

  14. Cathy Hampton says:

    This is an excellent graphic and very close to actual costs. I’ve been doing ISD for over 20 years and one piece of advice I give to new ISD graduates is to learn to cost of their products. Sure, some of the hours and costs will vary depending on the topic, the client, the software, the interactivity level and all the variables associated with a project; however, you need a job aid such as this if you are going to survive in the corporate world or as an independent. In other words, you must prepare for that day when you are asked, “How long will this take and how much is it going to cost?” If you don’t know, your value to the business starts eroding quickly. Thanks for this graphic!

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