Thinking

Developing Online Learning for Non-Employees
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By Luke Kempski, CEO June 04, 2019

A Great Opportunity for L&D Professionals

While L&D professional associations and publications often focus on employee training, we frequently work with clients to develop, deliver and manage online training for non-employees. These learning solutions reach outside the organization in what is sometimes referred to as extended enterprise training. This might include training for channel partners (resellers, distributors, franchisees, etc.) or customers/end users or members of a professional association. In just about all cases, there is a bottom-line business reason for both the provider and consumer of the training. In recent years external training has grown substantially providing opportunities for organizations and learning professionals. When approaching these opportunities, it’s important to be prepared for what’s different when developing training for external learners.

Infographic showing the circular relationship between employees, professional association members, end users & customers, channel partners, and other

What is the business expectation?

Aligning expectations between the provider and the learner is key to a successful extended enterprise training venture. If you’re providing training to external dealers or resellers, you may make programs available at little or no cost since it is essential to making sure they know how to sell your products to their customers. In franchises or dealer relationship, online learning programs may be bundled into licensing fees. For other organizations, online learning may be a product that they sell to customers for a fee to cover costs or generate a profit.

What is the business model?

With our clients, we have seen a variety of models, including:

  • Annual training subscriptions for organizations based on numbers of learners
  • Association membership fees that include online learning programs
  • Franchisor licensing fees that include training to franchisees and their employees
  • Businesses including online learning with their product as a value-add differentiator
  • Businesses selling courses or bundles of courses and certificates directly to consumers

New Experiences for Learning Professionals

With new business models come new considerations for the learning professional. These might include:

  • How will the training offering be branded and marketed?
  • What other systems need to integrate with the learning delivery and management platform?
  • How will the financial transactions be handled?
  • Will there be incentives for learners to complete courses?
  • What will the learner’s experience be when accessing and taking a course?
  • How will the learners access and share their transcript, certificate or accreditation with their employer?

Making Extended Enterprise Training Part of Your Career

L&D professionals should seek opportunities to be part of extended enterprise online training ventures. Businesses and organizations are making these offerings core to their value propositions. As a learning leader, you can apply your knowledge and skills in instructional design, learning management, technology and human behavior. At the same time, you learn how to integrate finance, ecommerce and marketing into developing an online learning solution with a defined return on investment.

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