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Classroom Training vs. Digital On Demand: Which is a Better Investment?

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Calculating the ROI of Digital Learning

Many times when I am speaking to clients and prospects, the price tag of learning often comes up. Digital learning “seems” so much more expensive. But is it really? In this blog post, we will tackle that question.

For many of our prospective clients, they are entering the world of digital learning for the first time. They are used to classroom training which on the surface seems like a less expensive investment for their organization. However, there are a number of “hidden” expenses that cause classroom training to be a greater investment in terms of a long-term strategy.

Classroom Training Costs

  • Class/Workshop design and development (one time)
  • Instructor salary and costs (ongoing)
  • Space/location costs (ongoing)
  • Travel expenses (ongoing)
  • Food/Other Expenses (ongoing)
  • Materials (ongoing)
  • Time away from the job (lost productivity)
  • Additional costs of applying what was learned back on the job after the event

These expenses are repeated each time a new class needs to be taught and multiplied by the number of participants over time.

  • Classroom Design + Development = average $20,000 – $25,000 + depending on amount of complexity
  • Instructor Salary (40% of their salary – $40,000
  • Classroom session costs (average per session) – $10,000
  • Av # of session per year = 4
  • $40,000 per year


  • First year $100,000-125,000
  • Second year $80,000
  • Etc.

Now consider on demand learning. On demand or digital learning has a higher investment up front to create since much more intention needs to be put into the experience since a designer needs to anticipate learner behavior, actions and questions (classroom instructors are able to adjust on the fly if needed because they can read the audience, elearning practitioners need to build all of that into the solution when it is built). However, once it is built and deployed, it will provide a consistent and effective experience for learners without any additional expense.

On demand/Digital Learning Costs

  • Learning Experience Design + Development = average $35,000-$50,000+ per hour depending on complexity
  • Time away from the job = minimal if combining work and learning
  • Additional costs to apply it back on the job = $0 – application happens immediately
  • Year 2 – $0 or minimal cost for technical/content updates

Factors to Improve Your ROI

  • Reduce the time to mastery by creating a learning experience that allows someone to learn as close to their work as possible and when they need it.
  • Improve your offer. How is your learning offer effective, engaging and timely. Take away the question as to how your learning campaign is providing a return to the learners.
  • Make sure that you are considering the results that the learning experience will have on the organization. What is the bottom line financial savings that will occur once employees are performing at an optimal level within the organization?
  • Evaluate the long term impact of the solution.
Tara L Bryan

Our mission is to inspire, educate and give business owners the strategies and skills to build an infinitely scalable online business that will allow them to make a bigger impact and income without sacrificing the customer’s experience or adding more time to their already full lives. 


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