Here are five things you should always think about before embarking on an eLearning project.
Please don’t skip these and go directly to purchasing authoring tools or off-the-shelf learning content. No, I mean it, don’t skip these. They’re life savers! 🙂
1. Connect your learning goals to business goals
You need to make sure that your business actually needs this eLearning. What problems will it solve? What will it improve? And how will eLearning actually achieve this?
In a recent project, we were asked to review an existing course which was created to make the use of certain industrial equipment more efficient. It was a detailed and lengthy learning experience, with a rough seat time of 18 hours.
However, many of its learning objectives were irrelevant to the business goal and was focused on theoretical knowledge the firm’s engineers already had. In fact, very little of the course focused on what the business actually needed.
We proposed the design and development of a shorter course which would offer practice opportunities through simulation. We put the use of the equipment in the very centre of our learning objectives. We developed the content rapidly, and immediately started seeing positive results in our evaluation process.
Remember: If there is no clear connection between your learning goals and your business goals, you run the risk of developing something your organization doesn’t really need.
2. Review your content
In many cases, eLearning is created to replace or complement face-to-face learning. Content already exists in the form of presentations or hand-outs. Unfortunately, most of the time, this pre-existing content isn’t suitable for someone who’s sitting in front of a computer screen trying to learn something. It might work fine in a classroom, where the instructor is available to explain and extrapolate, but copy-pasting it into online slides is simply insufficient.
Pre-existing content might suffer from one or more of the following:
- It’s too wordy or too dense, or, at the other end of the unsuitability spectrum, it’s too brief.
- It’s poorly structured.
- It’s outdated.
- It offers no opportunity for interactivity.
An experienced instructor can counter all of the above, but a computer can’t! So make sure that your content undergoes a thorough review by an instructional designer who specializes in eLearning.
3. Find the right people
Who do you need to work with for your vision to materialize? Typically, a modern eLearning offering will require services from the following specialists:
- Subject matter expert
- Instructional designer
- Content processing specialist (often at the same time a copywriter and proof reader)
- Illustrators and animators
- Voice actors
- Project manager
Want to know more about each of these roles in an eLearning project? Check out this article!
4. Consider end-system technologies
Often forgotten or (even worse) deliberately postponed, this can doom an eLearning project from the beginning. Everyone is so busy visualizing the fantastic eLearning that we’re going to create, but they forget to look at the trainees’ access to computers or mobile devices that have enough power to smoothly run what we’re making for them.
Broadband internet is also important, especially if you’re looking to reach several locations (countries or continents) with your eLearning.
Once you have considered the above, you might need to compromise at some level. That’s usually fine. The success of an eLearning initiative shouldn’t rely upon learners having access to cutting-edge tech and super-fast internet. There are ways to design for low-end systems without losing learning value – as long as you know this from the outset!
5. Get sponsorship!
Get as many C-level people involved from the beginning. Inform them about what you’re doing and explain the positive impact it will have on the business. Make an effort to set up a monthly 20-minute meeting to update them on your progress and ask for their help in solving problems. They deserve to be kept in the loop, and you deserve their support.
Talk to your IT department and get their green light, too. You will need their support towards the end stages, where testing and deployment happen.
Remember: Everyone is busy, so always be ready to present the positive impact of your eLearning project to whoever you need to support you.
All of the above and much more are covered in eLearning Done Right: Fundamentals and Beyond, our one-day seminar with a live instructor designed to help your team with your eLearning initiatives!
Questions? Any comments? We’d love to hear from you! 🙂