Exploring off the shelf and bespoke learning content

Choosing between purchasing off the shelf or bespoke learning content is a decision every L&D professional will have to make at some point when developing training. In this article, we talk about the difference between off the shelf and bespoke learning content, and when you should use them.

What is the difference between off the shelf and bespoke courseware?

At its simplest, off the shelf refers to premade learning content that is ideal for learning that can be used generally across different organisations. Bespoke learning is created for your specific needs and context, and is ideal for learning that is particular to your organisation or industry. 

For example, in a corporate or government organisation, you might use off the shelf training areas such as workplace health and safety or working in teams. This is often general training that doesn’t change much between organisations. This is where services like Linkedin Learning and Go1 can help—especially if a lot of your learning can be off-the shelf. 

However, if your organisation has specific policies around topics like reporting harassment or performing daily tasks, it’s impossible to get this kind of learning content anywhere, unless you make it yourself. 

Why should I develop bespoke learning content?

There are lots of reasons that bespoke learning content could be the way forward. 

For example, policies, legislature, or learning pathways specific to your organisation might lend you to bespoke learning content. 

Let’s take an example. 

In Australia, the National Integrity Framework sets out guidelines for how sport is conducted in Australia. The framework talks about how everyone should behave, especially when it comes to sexual harassment, assault, and child safeguarding. The Child Safeguarding Policy needed to be communicated quickly and effectively to everyone involved in sports, down to the club level. 

This is a situation where it’s impossible to find off the shelf training for club members, staff, and players. So, Sport Integrity Australia engaged Androgogic’s Learning Design team to create a specific, engaging, and informative module, which then went on to win a LearnX award for Best Ethical Training

Interested in seeing what Androgogic can do? Check out Sport Integrity’s eLearning Modules here or request a demo

What to look for in an off the shelf courseware vendor

When looking for off the shelf content, you want to make sure that you are purchasing high-quality courseware. It should be engaging, with a production value that aligns or is greater than your existing content. 

You should also work with your LMS vendor to determine how the courseware you have purchased is integrated with your system. For example, if you use Linkedin Learning for your off the shelf courseware, ask your LMS vendor if Linkedin can be integrated with the system. 

Totara: Androgogic Edition makes integrating your off the shelf courseware easy. We can integrate with courseware providers such as Go1 and Linkedin. The system can also support SCORM and xAPI compliant packages. 

What to look for in a custom courseware vendor

Engaging a courseware developer to help you develop bespoke courseware can be hard. Bespoke courseware can be perceived as costly, time consuming, and difficult.

But according to Androgogic’s Learning Experience Design team, it can be quite flexible—with the right vendor. A good vendor will ask the right questions and find a methodology that suits your budget and time constraints. 

If you’re a small L&D team—maybe only a handful of people or less—it can be stressful to consider the amount of time and effort that working with a vendor to develop custom content might take. An excellent vendor will take all of these constraints into account to develop something that works for you and your organisation.


Androgogic's award-winning Learning Experience Design team has years of experience in learning development solutions. Why talk to anyone else?