Types of eLearning Content: Off-the-Shelf vs. DIY vs. Custom

Types of eLearning Content: Off-the-Shelf vs. DIY vs. Custom

When your company begins to consider eLearning content and training programs, an essential question that eventually arises is: Should I choose off-the-shelf, do-it-yourself (DIY) or custom, professionally-built LMS content?

Answering this question may not be as straightforward as it seems — especially if you don’t have a clear idea of the pros and cons of each type of learning content.

Your key focus should be building or shopping for elearning content that will achieve your company’s specific learning objectives efficiently and effectively. Some considerations to keep in mind as you make your decision include:

  • Pricing
  • Level of effort
  • Tool skill level
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Content availability

In this blog post, you’ll see the advantages and disadvantages of each content option to help you make the best choice for your company.

Off-the-shelf content

Off-the-shelf content

Off-the-shelf content consists of pre-made courses and eLearning materials that are instantly ready for sale and use by your teams and employees. This type of course content is pre-formatted and contains generic training and knowledge for each topic. Off-the-shelf learning content can be purchased as a single product, in bundled packages or as subscriptions for easy training and sharing.


Off-the-shelf content offers a lot of advantages within any industry:

  • Implement training instantaneously to accelerate learning — you won’t have to wait for courses to be made.
  • Choose from a wide range of topics from a content library, increasing time spent on other value-add responsibilities.
  • Reduce the total internal resources needed for content creation and training material options.
  • Boost overall ROI as courses are more affordable than custom course content.

However, off-the-shelf content does have a few drawbacks, which may affect your decision:

  • Off-the-shelf content options may not meet all specific training and employee learning needs you may have.
  • Topics may be over-generalized or lack necessary details.
  • Little to no customization and modification options to tailor the content to your needs.

DIY content

While DIY content is technically a subset of custom content—which you’ll explore further below—it’s created in-house by your own team or company and requires some content creation skills.


DIY content may be your preferred choice based on the following reasons:

  • Gives you full control over personalized details and specialized expert information that outside sources may not be aware of.
  • Cuts costs if you have subject matter experts and instructional design resources on hand.
  • Adds flexibility for future tweaks and additional content can be added whenever needed.

Companies may opt out of DIY content because:

  • Takes a lot of internal resources to ideate, write and create learning content for a wide variety of teams and employees.
  • Requires access to a course authoring tool or software, which allows for more interactive content elements and better tracking.

Custom content

Custom content is an umbrella term that covers any eLearning content that has been created and modified for your company’s specific use. In this case, we’ll be referring to custom content for personalized learning and training that is outsourced.


Below are some of the top reasons why companies choose to utilize custom content:

  • You require customized courses that are built to fulfill your specific needs and wants. This can include content that is only relevant to your organization or content that is created based on your branded look, feel and tone.
  • When you commission custom content, you typically own that license completely. This way you avoid the long-term content management that comes with off-the-shelf content.
  • Custom content can be as technical and require expertise beyond what’s available on staff.

Custom content may not work for everyone, and here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Custom content can be expensive and may not fit within your content budget.
  • Turnaround is slower as each course needs to be written and designed per your specifications. This reduces immediate efficiency and requires more resources and effort.

How to choose the right type of eLearning content for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to LMS content.

Each company has its own learning and training goals that need to be considered before you take the leap and choose off-the-shelf, DIY or custom learning content.

If you’re looking for general or regulation and compliance-related educational content, off-the-shelf may be your best bet. This type of eLearning content offers a wide range of pre-made courses, which can cover much-needed training (e.g. sexual harassment, diversity or security training).

For companies with a strong internal team of experts, it may be preferable to create your own DIY content. This may be the most affordable option, though it works best if your company has employees with design and training experience beforehand to create this learning content. Utilizing an LMS withbuilt-in course authoring can provide your team with even more opportunities for efficiency and cost savings.

Working with an external company or team to build custom content may be pricey, but it ensures that you’re getting courses that meet the specific standards and content needs of your organization.

Excited to discover more about content for LMS?

If you're looking for a way to up your employee training game, then look no further than Absorb Amplify. Our content library is full of courses that will help learners engage and retain knowledge with expert design-all thanks in part to utilizing our video-based microlearning courses, Absorb Amplify!

For more information about eLearning content options and how they integrate with Absorb LMS, reach out to our experts or request a demo today.

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