(Part of an ongoing series featuring Rich Media Impact Awards finalists)

What sounds better to you?

45 training courses via classroom instruction for nearly $3 million


45 online training courses for $672,800

That’s the dramatic difference in cost for Alphaport, Inc., contracted by the NASA Safety Center, to deliver courses online via Mediasite vs. face-to-face in a classroom. Turns out webcasting is a no-brainer for them because it created a 4-to-1 ROI in the first year, and that is only expected to go up. Their final ROI is expected to be 8-to-1, saving $5 million of the NASA budget that can go to support other initiatives like future space missions.

But let’s take a few steps back and examine what exactly the safety center does. The center’s STEP program delivers technical training online to about 1,000 government employees and 1,000 contractors. The STEP curriculum contains 150 online courses, and that continues to grow. About one-third of STEP courses have used Mediasite technology.

“Why do we use video capture for courses? The answer is simple. It’s the ROI,” according to John Marinaro, director of technical excellence at the NASA Safety Center. “Video capturing technology has helped us spend our development dollars more wisely, deliver more courses in a shorter period of time and take advantage of instructional resources that exist in the agency.”

Currently, 45 online courses represent 527 instructional hours in the STEP Safety and Mission Assurance curriculum. And 650 learners took those courses which resulted in 2,000 online course completions and nearly 12,000 online learning hours.

Let’s compare what the cost of teaching those 45 courses in a classroom setting would be verses what NASA spent delivering those courses online with Mediasite.

Item Classroom Mediasite
Course Development = =
Instructor Delivery $600,000 $270,000
Learner Travel Expenses $1 million $0
Learner Travel Labor Costs (NASA would have lost 1,630 work days) $1.3 million $0
Production $0 $402,800
Total $2.9 million $672,800


And these costs are just for the first year only.

NASA is a Rich Media Impact Awards finalist in the Rapid ROI and Prolific Use categories for using rich media to quickly achieve a measurable ROI in its training initiative. Winners will be announced during a special ceremony at UNLEASH 2012 May 7-9 in Madison.