Article: Why learning subscription model is a terrible idea

Learning Management Systems

Why learning subscription model is a terrible idea

Why pay for a library of courses when all of the courses are not being used?
Why learning subscription model is a terrible idea

Many companies purchase learning content for their employees through learning subscription models, wherein a flat fee gives the company access to a library of course content. This might sound logical from a cost perspective, as the fee may be very low. However, my interactions with various L&D leaders has led me to a strong conclusion that the usage of learning subscription model is as low as 10 %. This infers that the majority of companies are not using learning libraries to their full potential. Why is that so? Let’s dive deeper into this.

There are two kinds of learning needs today. The first is where the learner wants to understand a subject that’s completely new to him or her. They need an overview on one or few subjects, in order to understand the use of the subjects within their worksphere and get equipped with general tips and tricks. The role of a Learning and Development department in this case is restricted to only curating these learning programs and courses for the employees. 

If you have the quest to learn something new, there's no better place than the internet. There are thousands of experts across industries who are sharing informative content through videos, articles, whitepapers, and so on. The biographies, reviews and ratings speak to the credibility of the author and their content. Employees with interest in a particular subject can readily access learning materials and can learn online instantly. Why bother to learn fundamentals on a corporate learning management system (LMS) when the same information is readily and freely accessible online. 

The second kind of learning need occurs when an individual or a team needs to be well-versed in a new technology, software or a product to implement at work. Individuals don’t want to risk their careers by becoming outdated in their area of expertise. According to Skill Acquisition For The Digital Age, a study by People Matters and Simplilearn, enterprises, too, are focusing on upskilling their employees in digital technologies as they look at bringing their businesses into today’s digital economy. As many as 42% of respondents of the study felt that more than 70% of their workforce can be trained using digital technologies. The learning outcomes should help employees move ahead in their career through projects that utilize their new skills, and better roles with greater responsibility. 

Corporations around the world are still relying on traditional classroom settings to fulfill this learning need. They want their employees to complete training, and in many cases, these training are contextualized to project requirements. With geographically dispersed teams, using technology to provide classroom experience online will go a long way in meeting the learning needs of employees, optimizing learning costs, and workplace productivity.   

There are two advancements that will drive the enterprise training industry. 

  1. Hands-on learning opportunities through projects and simulations will allow your employees to try new technologies and software in real time as they learn. With the help of projects related to specific industries, employees can retain the learnings better as they become equipped to apply what they learned on a new project immediately. 
  2. You can learn the most complex technology from an industry expert from anywhere in the world. Edtech companies are collaborating with industry thought leaders and experienced trainers with domain knowledge and connecting them with learners from different geographies. Employees can learn from the best trainers in real time and also have the opportunity to interact with students from different industries. 


As learning requirements change to keep pace with industry-relevant technology, organizations see more value in opting for individual course licenses across technologies over subscription models. By assigning relevant courses to your employees, it's also becoming easy to track course completions and evaluate employees on the learning outcomes. This is a trend that's here to stay in the enterprise training market. Many leading ed-tech players now use a “buy a course” model in place of a “buy a subscription” model.

Why pay for a library of courses when all of the courses are not being used?

Topics: Learning Management Systems

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