This article reviews FAQs: e-Learning Development questions and answers.  We’ll also explore comparisons between Webinars vs E-learning courses — and comparisons to Podcasts — as alternatives to classroom-based delivery methods.

Alternatives to classroom-based delivery methods

Online Training Development and Course Design Basics

Education technologies, digital delivery requirements and e-learning hosting costs: FAQs and e-Learning development questions answered by our online learning experts

Long before COVID19 meant digital training was mandatory versus optional, digital courses have had increasing adoption rates.  Online learning has been popular in a variety of education settings including:

  • educational settings including K-12
  • private training providers
  • top-ranked Universities across the globe
  • healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturing organisations

Nearly all modern Universities, registered training organisations (RTOs) and industry-led training providers — including PharmOut — were already using some form of online training with their personnel.  It was an increasingly popular training option long before it became the most practical training delivery method during quarantine; and  is particularly helpful for meeting individual learning needs and training completion timeframes.

Popular online training courses in regulatory compliance, clinical research and public health:

Blended-training methods should always include online training alternatives.

But in the days of COVID19, online courses are now first in line for delivering quality education ‘just in time’.

  • Online GMP courses are a convenient and cost-effective way to train teams in GMP, EUGMP and other regulatory compliance requirements.
  • Blended learning experiences increase GMP compliance partially as they help increase data retention and offer self-paced alternatives to classroom training delivery modalities.

Compliance has never been more important than in the path of a rapidly-spreading pandemic…where gaps in GMP, biologicals GxP (including good laboratory practice and good recordkeeping practice) could lead to an increased risk for spreading the disease.

GMP training is crucial, for example, in medical device manufacturing (COVID19 test kits); pharmaceutical manufacturing (biologicals/vaccinations) and veterinary medicines.

Online training options offer 24/7 convenience PLUS budget-comfort.

But the primary value of online training courses is their value in increasing GMP compliance. This includes increasing GMP compliance amongst long-term personnel, temporary contractors, periodic maintenance workers, cleaners and supply-chain vendors.

With audit findings on the rise in the USA per the latest statistics from FDA inspections, organisations need GMP training more than ever before. They need it to be affordable…and with COVID19 spreading, they need it now.


Updates on E-learning development, applications and related technologies are especially relevant in the current climate.


Example of a new course in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Fundamentals (Pharmaceutical Water Systems/Water Quality).

Be sure you also visit the recently updated PE009-14 PICS/GMP based Biologicals manufacturing course if you’re working with these medicines.

Education courses and online delivery options in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Health-protection initiatives are expected to have a significant impact on education delivery methods and education-based economies in the coming months.

Virus-related lifestyle changes means e-learning alternatives, compared to classroom training options, will increase exponentially in value.

Like other training courses, e-learning still works best when blended with classroom instruction and on-the-job training. But with the coronavirus impacting the ability to continue offering large-audience classroom training courses, online training will be the ‘go to education delivery method’ for the next 6 to 18 months. 

How will Universities and pharmaceutical manufacturers adapt?

For starters, they will rely more heavily on online training options as part of their training programs. (Within days after I posted this article, most Universities were shut down and relying purely on digital training delivery programs and online learning platforms.)

They’ll also likely opt for customised onsite training, and will pre-screen any in-person contacts to ensure they haven’t been traveling abroad. Working with SME’s will be primarily through digital means and remote connections. Timelines will also become tighter, as demand for training options grows.

Fortunately, GMP e-Learning courses are already available and affordable.

Online courses suit most training budgets.

E-learning helps organisations meet their annual training and development budgets.

But perhaps more importantly in today’s climate, e-learning offers instant training access for new pharmaceutical employees or manufacturing contractors and suppliers.

  • Courses range from GMP training to employee orientation for a variety of manufacturing industries.
  • They can cover topic introductions (warm-ups ) or be used for in-depth qualification courses.
  • Simple delivery formats enable inexpensive e-Learning course formats
  • Costs of e-learning modules to end-users can be lowered by capping e-learning development costs and using simpler formats

faqs elearning development of online courses including development cost averages and time frames

e-Learning module development costs (averages)

To develop an e-learning course series can range in cost from approximately $8,000 for one module to upwards of $20,000 USD for a series; often more in the $50,000 to $100,000 range depending on how sophisticated you make the training.  These days, with everything changing so fast, you’re best to keep costs down and make the content rich, but simpler in delivery format so they are quickly updatable when something changes. This is known as ‘content updates’ or ‘time-sensitive revisions’ and can change your development costs.

But these price ranges are only wide-ranging estimates for elearning course development costs.

Average costs for online course development (education resource investment costs) will vary greatly.

E-learning Development Costs depend on numerous factors including:

  • how complex the material is
  • which technologies and apps you are using for your e-learning course development
  • software/apps and management/administration costs of Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • technological upgrades
  • access to an SME and their accuracy in terms of current and relevant data

Essentially, to estimate your development costs, factor in your employee time (instructional designers), subject matter experts time (SMEs), delivery software costs and LMS hosting fees including administration, training updates and software licencing.

Some e-learning series can cost far greater to develop and host; even so, they offer a very scalable way to train numerous employees without the need to pay for a venue while also reducing personnel travelling times, costs and risks.

Online learning options are excellent for delivering education from remote locations.

PharmOut’s online GMP training has been designed specifically to be an effective and affordable certificate GMP training option. It’s an option that is especially useful for employee and contractor orientating (and/or refreshing the knowledge of your employees) in relation to compliance responsibilities per PIC/S GMP regulations.

E-learning offers trainers and learners three key advantages over classroom training.

These key advantages of e-Learning are flexibility, convenience and client-centric pacing.

Online courses are also a cost-effective measure for designated training budgets. This includes topics like GMP, GDP and Good Record-Keeping practice (GRK) for regulatory compliance.

Click here for alternatives to classroom-based training.


Definitions and e-Learning terminology

Definition of e-Learning/Online Courses:  

An e-learning course (online training module) is one of several different types of digital training formats.

  • E-learning modules are essentially training courses which are delivered over the internet, typically in ‘brief chunks of time.’
  • Online courses are typically accessible on a 24/7 basis for most learners.
  • Internet access is required.
  • Courses will also use a certain amount of data download capacity (part of typical data plans).

Online courses provide instant training access for learners and certificates of completion (e.g. a GMP Certificate Course). They also offer users the chance to review the content, over a designated time frame.

A training module is simply another name for an e-learning segment.

Training modules (units) may cover a specific topic, as part of a broader digital training initiative.

  • E-Learning Courses are first thoroughly researched and designed to meet audience needs (learning objectives).
  • These modules are pre-recorded/pre-developed training modules.
  • They are typically not dependent on a presenter for delivery (which is very different to webinars or podcasts which rely heavily on the talents and knowledge of the key presenter(s).
  • So while online courses can be costly to develop, e-learning may have an extensive shelf-life to make their development more cost-effective.

E-learning currency depends on how fast an industry changes.

  • High-cost e-learning development is not advised for rapidly changing industries.
  • The exception is high-learner volume topics, where a subject matter expert (SME) is on hand for frequent updates.

Online training courses employ e-learning delivery formats. They promote concepts of entirely self-paced training so are inherently learner-centric (end-user focused).

  • Accessing an e-learning module requires the learner to attain a username and password, via online registration formats.
  • Most modern e-Learning modules will have built-in interactivity to increase engagement and knowledge retention; contrasted to the passive nature of watching video-only formats and passive listening formats for audio recordings.

FAQs e-Learning development

online courses covid19 coronavirus worldhealthorganisation

e-Learning development Questions and Answers including delivery formats, software, digital course delivery requirements and hosting costs.

How are online courses created, hosted and distributed?

The basic process of e-learning course development (online training) involves:

Planning and Content Organisation

  • A training gap/course topic is identified
  • Research is performed to identify the gap
  • The content is assessed as being suitable for online course development (if not, it might be purely classroom-based)
  • Existing content should be assessed to determine the next step, e.g.
    • (a) Use existing content via paying for a licence
    • (b) Create new content that gives you proprietary ownership (beware copyright infringements re legal charges, steep fines and penalties)

For option (b) as covered in this article:

  • Course content is curated and arranged (this is a key component of instructional design)
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) often participate in the design (or review the final drafts)
  • The implementation stage of designing the e-learning course then begins – this is the hands-on e-learning development phase

Implementation into appropriate software/apps and learning management systems (LMS)

  • The course is broken down to data themes — using a process called ‘storyboarding’ or scene-setting
  • The course is then designed (instructional design) to fit into an available training app (software/platform)
  • The materials and resources are carefully compiled into the selected program
  • Interactivity (and/or gaming-style engagement) is added to improve learner experiences and content engagement
  • The course unit(s) are then uploaded to the Learning Management System (LMS)

Online courses will generally comprise multi-media delivery methods (images, text, words, graphics, videos and interactivity).

The greater the interactivty, the higher the likely engagement — and the more enjoyable the course. This interactivity is one of the key factors differentiating online training from lecture-based presentations and traditional webinars or podcasts.


e-learning development: Inclusions and exclusions

Typical inclusions for online courses include:

  • Definitions of common terminology relating to the training topic
  • Curated content is divided into:
    • 3o to 90-minute self-contained modules
    • Graduated/sequenced according to complexity (using principles of education content organisation)
  • Text media in plain language
  • Narrated text
  • Graphics (photographs or illustrations, graphs, pie charts, etc)
  • Bullet-points (highlights)
  • Legal or Industry References
  • Video clips
  • Quizzes and Assessments
  • Certificate of Completion after passing an assessment

Some online courses enable adaptations to suit users with varying abilities; such as using larger fonts or adjustable audio tracks.

Online courses may also suit individuals with limited physical mobility because they can be completed from the comfort of a home (or hospital bed) — as long as the person can use the required technology to access the course.

However, most online courses — by their nature — rely on providing visual cues along with text, graphs and auditory information and hence, may not suit all users.

Exclusions for e-learning courses tend to relate to the practical, hands-on aspects of training courses.

Whether or not your e-learning has an option for personal support (educational contacts) or practical sessions is another option you can provide to learners

  • It’s important to recognise that some learners will require more learning support than an online training course can provide
  • Typically online training is blended with classroom learning and on-the-job training (or practice sessions)
  • Make sure your end-users know WHO can help them, if they hit a snag, or need practical training components
  • If the course is all-inclusive (but relatively inexpensive, because there IS no additional support for learners), make sure to state that in your course promotion materials

How is an e-learning course packaged and promoted as an education option?

  • The need for the course must first be identified (as listed above) to determine audience interest (suitability as a course option)
  • It must also be
  • Once a course is developed, the training package should be quality checked (quality assurance testing or “QA”)
    • The tester should be representative of the learner’s demographic
    • QA timing – QA should occur before uploading the online course to the LMS (before release)
    • QA should include all assessments and certificate and other platform functionality
  • Release numbers on course updates are a golden standard for online course development
  • Once initially QA’d, the course is uploaded onto a robust server
    • The course should be re-assigned to testers (re-checked; e.g. QA’d for a second time after uploading)
    • The server must have adequate bandwidth and speed (capacity)
    • e-Learning materials should provide students with a seamless learning experience (after initial log-in)
    • Data integrity is imperative
    • The system must be secure to protect the proprietary course info AND student’s confidential information including access log-ins and course results
  • This QA process and course content updates should be scheduled for at least annual reviews/updates (minimum)
    • QA should occur more frequently if basic material changes
    • So this requirement can vary from industry to industry, and topic to topic
    • Changes in (a) imagery and (b) content are very common in most industries and course topics (but not all)

How is online training accessed by learners?


Most courses are available through registration and the payment of a course fee. This is typically easily offered online, just as our GMP online courses provide users with easy-registration and instant access to the GMP learning materials.

  • Users will typically need a computer device (laptop, tablet, PC or smartphone), uninterrupted internet access and adequate bandwidth (data plans) to access the e-Learning modules online
  • Available to attendees via registration; accessing e-learning courses and digital training resources often involves a training fee (course fee) and registration via the web
  • Course fees for e-learning can range from free access to thousands of dollars — an average course range is $40 to $300 per module, sometimes higher depending on the topic and support involved (most e-learning delivery systems offer little direct support from administrators but are user-friendly and readily accessible via registration over the web)
  • Copyright laws must be obeyed
  • Lawsuits, civil charges or criminal charges are potential outcomes for content theft/copyright breaches of e-learning and other training resources

For a review of e-learning software programs and platforms, read this blog.

Back to online training blogs.

Originally published on 4th February 2020. Page last updated on 17 March 2020.

Last updated on October 7th, 2021 at 06:58 am

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