4 Simple E-Learning Project Management Tips

e-learning project management

I get a lot of project management questions, specifically how to keep the projects moving forward successfully. The two most essential elements are expectations and communication.

Understand the Purpose of the Course

When meeting with clients it’s important to understand and identify the learning objectives. And then from there, to craft a good learning plan.

What do they need to know? How do we know they know it? How will the learn it? OK, let’s build it!

Create a Service Level Agreement

What is the final product going to look like? What are the course requirements? When’s the due date? How will it be implemented?

Outline the entire production process and discuss who does what and when. Identify a due date and the measure of success. Then get them to sign-off on that agreement. Whenever, there’s a dispute, refer to the agreement as the foundation for the work required.

Concerning the agreement, get the person who is the final authority to sign the agreement. I’ve worked on plenty of projects that were complete and had the client then take it to someone else above them who wanted to make changes. You want to prevent that.

Establish Clear Expectations

Once that’s in place, map out the process with a clear deliverable date and some key milestones. And at those milestones, do a check-in and confirm things are moving forward as intended. Often projects get derailed with extra content or additional requirements. The milestones are a perfect way to keep track of the project’s progress and focus on the original agreement’s expectations. If they need to make changes, then rework the service level agreement and expectations.

At the end of the project, I get the client to look over the service level agreement and the final project. I then get them to sign an acknowledgement that what was agreed upon was delivered.

Be Proactive

A lot of people wait around until the client connects with them. This often causes delays because while the course is important to you as a course designer, for the client it’s usually just once thing on a list of a lot of other things (and most likely not their top priority).

Keep things moving forward. Anticipate issues or things important to the client so that you can deal with them quickly and effectively.

There you go, four simple project management tips to that help establish expectations and instigate clear communication to help move your e-learning projects forward. Want to learn more, check out this list of tips, some cheat sheets, and a free e-book in the community.

What other tips do you have to share?


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Help Your Client Build the Right Type of E-Learning Course

best e-learning

My hunch is the most e-learning courses are explainer-type content, heavy on content, but light on applied learning. This is fine, especially since most of the learning happens outside the course; however, good e-learning courses should be more than content.

Start with Clear Objectives

Most courses are content-heavy because of compliance requirements. And the main objective is certified exposure to content by December 31. If you’re building courses based on performance expectations, you need to start with clear objectives.

  • What are they to do?
  • How do you know they can do it?

That gives you objectives and metrics.

What’s the Best Type of Course?

The key focus is performance. Sometimes courses consist of mostly content, and then the performance and practice activities happen outside the course. And sometimes, the course is designed to simulate the real-world expectations with plenty of practice activities in the course.

  • What do they need to do?
  • Where can they practice it?

It’s not always easy to build viable practice activities in an e-learning course. In those cases, find ways to have them practice in the real-world.

Diversity Changes Expectations

Clients request the types of courses with which they have experience. This means typical e-learning courses with the standard object screen, some bullet points, and a final quiz. It can be a challenge to get them to see courses differently. That’s why it’s important to expose them to diverse learning opportunities.

  • Collect examples of diverse types of courses and learning activities. I even like to keep samples of mobile apps. This lets you throw out other ideas to push the envelope a bit.
  • Create a demo course with different treatments that vary from typical content-heavy to a bit more interactive and focused on decision-making experiences. This lets them see beyond the content.

Focus on the actions required of the learner and then try to present the course treatment around that rather than the content. The more examples of different learning experiences you can show, the better.

As a course designer, it’s you job to help the client to see past the content.


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Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

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Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

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Are You Making This Mistake with Your E-Learning?

e-learning mistake

A lot of e-learning is compliance-based and often how it has to be delivered is a bit rigid. I’ve heard plenty of examples where some compliance training requires X number of seat hours to certify the completion of the training.

This is ridiculous because the seat hours are completely disconnected from whether the learner demonstrates any semblance of understanding. But, like I said, that’s not going to change. And as an e-learning developer, you’re stuck.

Outside of compliance training, another large chunk is what I like to call regurgitative training. That’s where we repackage content that’s already available in some sort of digital format.

Policy training is a common type. The policies already exist online. We copy and paste the policies over a series of slides. Make the slides pretty. And then add a quiz.

Or, perhaps we need some ergonomics training; so, we copy and paste the ergonomics information that’s already available to the end user. We add some ergonomic pictures. Maybe get one of those cute comic-style animation makers so Susan can tell her cubicle mate Jack about her bad back, and then Terri the ergonomics person can pop in and tell Susan and Jack about ergonomics with almost Disney-like skill.

Maybe it’s time we rethink this approach to training for content that already exists. Here’s one idea:

  • The goal is for the person to use the content to make decisions or do things a certain way.
  • Instead of copying and pasting content that already exists in one digital format into another, focus on how to find and use the content.
  • Provide some instruction on what content is available, where it can be found, and why it exists.
  • For the assessment, skip the simple multiple choice quiz questions. Instead, create a series of quick decision-making scenarios that requires the person to locate the appropriate content to make the right decisions.

Some benefits to this type of approach are:

  • When content changes you don’t need to update the entire training program because the courses aren’t focused on specific content. Instead, they’re focused on where the content exists.
  • You’re teaching people to be resourceful and understand what’s available to help them do their jobs.
  • You also don’t need to cover every piece of information (which is a challenge when working with subject matter experts). All that information is freely available at the resource site.

How much of you e-learning courses already exist as content elsewhere? How do you approach these types of “training” requests?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Who’s Working on That E-Learning Course with You?

e-learning

One challenge I see for those who are just getting started with e-learning is that while they have the authoring tools to build the courses, they tend to lack the other connections and resources to pull the courses together.

It’s important to build a network of contributors and resources. And this starts with having the right people because they come with the right content, reviews, feedback, and approval.

Here are a few considerations:

  • Client. Someone is commissioning the course. They provide objectives, scope, deadlines, and access to resources. They also sign-off on what is to be done.
  • Subject Matter Experts. You may be the subject matter expert (which is common for e-learning) otherwise you’ll need access to the subject matter experts. And you’ll need to determine the source of truth for the content. And who is the final authority to confirm that?
  • Analyst. You want the learning objectives to be measurable and know the source of measurement; you need access to the metrics and how they’re measured. Otherwise at the end of the project you have no way of knowing if the objectives were met.
  • Project Manager. How is the project managed? There are a lot of steps involved and co-dependent elements between approval of content, assets, assessments, and implementation.
  • Learners. It’s important to get the perspective of the learning audience since they’re the ones who take the courses. I like to pull in new people who just learned the material. They provide a perspective that a seasoned subject matter expert may overlook.
  • Reviewers. Who will review the course? And at what point. It’s a good idea to get the content reviewed and confirmed before investing too much time in building the course. When building the course, especially with interactions and assessments that take more time to build, create quick prototypes and get them tested rather than build complete modules.
  • Programmers. Someone will assemble the course. It may as easy as opening the authoring tool and dropping in content. But you may want to do some hacks or add other elements that require some programming knowledge.
  • Multimedia Developers. Courses consist of visuals and multimedia such as audio and video. Who is designing the look of the course? Do videos need to be recorded and edited? What about special animations? Again, a lot of the simple stuff can be created in the authoring tool, but you may want access to someone who can create custom media.
  • IT Support. From my experience, most of the e-learning problems happen right before implementation. Where does the course live? Who has access to the servers or LMS? What happens with technical issues?
  • Marketing. The marketing team may not play any role in your course design. However, they often have a lot of critical information and collateral that has already been vetted. I’d seek them out for brand consideration, messaging, and media collateral like images and videos.

The reality for many e-learning developers is that they play the role of all (or most) of the people above? If that’s the case, the considerations are still the same. They just need to be scaled back a bit.

Question for you: when you build e-learning courses, how many people tend to work on the course with you? And how much are you doing on your own?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Starting an E-Learning Project

e-learning

“Help, I am just getting started with e-learning and don’t know where to start!”

There’s obviously a lot that goes into e-learning. And creating courses can be a bit daunting for those less experienced. So let’s break it down a bit to help you get started.

People Don’t Have Course Deficiencies

People don’t sit around waiting to take e-learning courses. Those courses exist as a solution to something. The goal isn’t to build the course. The goal is to meet some objective and the course is a means to getting there.

This seems obvious, but a lot of e-learning is usually repurposed content with no real connection to any tangible objective.

The best place to started is to make sure you’re building a course to meet a need.

Things to Consider When Getting Started

  • Meet with your client and determine what the training requirements are for the e-learning projects. Your goal is to establish measurable objectives. To do so, you need to know if the request from the client is really met with a training solution. Often, it’s not. Focus on what the expected outcome is and not just that a course is to be built.
  • Get the client thinking. I usually send over a list of a few core questions so that they’re prepared and have thought about some of the issues like the audience and what they hope to accomplish.
  • Determine timelines. When is the project due? How much time do you have to work on it? Is the request in line with time available? What is the least work you can do to meet the objectives?
  • Are there existing resources? Collateral from other projects? Data? If you need access to subject matter experts or others on the team, it’s important to know that and how you’ll get that access.
  • Is there a budget? Many organizations just expect that courses get built because you have the e-learning software, but they don’t offer a budget for the assets and work that may be required to be successful. Find out if there’s a budget.
  • Identify the final authority on who can make the important decisions and sign off on work. And then you want that person involved before you do any significant production. The last thing you want is a “final course” that needs to be reviewed. Ideally, all the content is reviewed and signed off prior to any significant construction.
  • Leave the initial meeting with next steps and action items. And every meeting you have after should require some decisions. If not, don’t have a meeting.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into build an e-learning course and this is just a few quick bullet points. The main things before building any e-learning course: make sure you need a course, determine objectives, and determine who owns the project.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Step Away from that Content

e-learning

Instructional design isn’t really that complicated. At its core, it’s about teaching something to someone who acquires new skills and knowledge and can apply them to meet some objective.

The challenge with a lot of e-learning is that courses are designed to be presentations of content, but not focused enough on the teaching and application. Content is obviously a key component of learning. But learning is a process where the content is synthesized with experience, activities, and feedback to do something new or perhaps better. Just looking at content with no application of what’s learned is a deficient instructional design process.

Content by itself is mostly irrelevant. Content pasted into an authoring tool doesn’t make it a course or great learning experience. The e-learning course isn’t the objective. The objective is to accomplish something specific, and the course is part of the solution to do that.

Step Away from the Solution

When I first learned about instructional design, we focused on backwards design where we looked at observable skills and then what was required to get the person there.

The natural inclination is to package content. But you need to step away from content. Instead look at what actions are required of the learner and then step backwards into the content. Here’s a simple way to think about backwards design.

In the real world:

  • What does the person need to do?
  • How do they demonstrate that they can do it?
  • How do they practice the skills required to demonstrate them?

In the e-learning course:

  • How do they demonstrate their understanding in the course? What assessment activities can you create?
  • What practice activities can you build for them to practice the skills?
  • How much do they need to learn to practice?
  • What content do they need to learn so that they can practice?

This is a simplified version of backwards design. The main focus is on the desired action and not content. What does the learner need to do? How do they practice it? What do they need to know? At some point you get to the content that supports the activity. This is how you get to the right content for the course versus just a content dump that becomes the course.

As you can see, focusing on action gets you to performance. And content is there to support what needs to be learned. You don’t start with content because it’s not tied to an action. And that’s where most courses fail.

The next time you build a course, identify the measurable performance expectations. What do they need to do? And then build backwards which will help determine the content you need.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Help! This Subject Matter Expert Needs to Build E-Learning

subject matter expert e-learning

Good news! It’s easier than ever to “build” e-learning. And because of this, subject matter experts build a lot of e-learning courses. This makes sense for a lot of reasons.

Subject matter experts have experience and depth of knowledge. They’re close to the subject and can keep things from becoming muddled by not involving a complicated production process or bringing on others who may confuse things. Training specialists (for all our good intentions) can complicate things and that’s not always good for the speed of business.

However, subject matter experts can often be too close to the content. It’s easy to forget that it took years to attain their expertise and that may not factor into what it takes for a new person to learn. Also, to a subject matter expert, everything is important. And not having an outside perspective means that the course may be too heavy on content that is irrelevant and not appropriate for the learning activities.

So where does a subject matter expert turn to build an effective course?

Content Doesn’t Equal Training

It’s common for subject matter experts (and organizations) to see everything as a content deficiency; and the solution is to build courses that require exposure to the content.

Putting content into a “course” doesn’t make it a course. Also, a lot of content in e-learning courses already exists in PDFs, websites, and other collateral.

How does copying and pasting it into a new medium make it better?

Not Everything Needs Training

“People are making this mistake.” Build a course.

“We have a new software program.” Build a course.

“Our customers aren’t happy.” Build a course.

“Here’s what they need to know about our organization.” Build a course.

Training works when focused on meaningful change that is measured through some sort of activity. Whatever deficiencies exist in not meeting the objectives may be caused by issues not related to training.

Some common issues that create gaps are poor management and communication in the organization. These things impact motivation. And they’re not easily solved by training. Other issues are environmental: perhaps the employees don’t have access to the right resources or technology.

Customers may be unhappy with things outside of the employee’s reach such as policies, sitting on hold forever, or the way ecommerce works. Those are also things not resolved with training.

Information vs Performance

Not all courses are the same. Some courses are informational where all that is required is exposure to the information (and perhaps a quick quiz).

Other courses are tied to performance expectations. These courses need better analysis and the right types of content and activities to ensure that skills are acquired and demonstrated by the learner. Looking at screens of bullet points will not help.

How to Build Successful E-Learning

Determine the learning objectives and how success is measured. The default for many organizations is to repackage content. But that’s not learning. Learning involves being able to use the content to make real-world decisions that meet the learning objectives.

Assuming the course is performance-based, focus on the required activities and not on the content. What do you want the person to do? Build the training around that. And the content supports getting there.

There’s a lot more to be said. But if you’re just getting started, focus on the action and what the person needs to DO. If there’s no action, that means it probably doesn’t need to be a course and perhaps a job aid is all that is required.

Bonus: here’s a good checklist when starting your course.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

What is Instructional Design?

If you are in the eLearning sector you may hear instructional design term before. But maybe you have not heard about many more things. So, let me dive deep into this article to give you more information about the instructional design.

Firstly, we can say for instructional design is giving training in a true way. When we are saying an instructional design perspective to reach people via in-class training or online training classes, there must be a checklist to create these kinds of courses. You must prepare yourself to create these courses. In this time instructional design helps us to create a great course with directions.

Let’s see some explanations about instructional design. In the academic perspective, this is the instructional design definition;

“instructional design is the creation of instructional materials. Though this field goes beyond simply creating teaching materials, it carefully considers how students learn and what materials and methods will most effectively help individuals achieve their academic goals. The principles of instructional design consider how educational tools should be designed, created, and delivered to any learning group, from grade school students to adult employees across all industry sectors.” [1]

And other sources giving this information to explain the instructional design.

“The instructional design process consists of determining the needs of the learners, defining the end goals and objectives of instruction, designing and planning assessment tasks, and designing teaching and learning activities to ensure the quality of instruction.” [2]

“Instructional Design is the art and science of creating an instructional environment and materials that will bring the learner from the state of not being able to accomplish certain tasks to the state of being able to accomplish those tasks. Instructional Design is based on theoretical and practical research in the areas of cognition, educational psychology, and problem-solving.” [3]

Sara McNeil defines the Instructional design as a:

“Process: Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.

Discipline: Instructional Design is that branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing those strategies.

Science: Instructional Design is the science of creating detailed specifications for the development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of situations that facilitate the learning of both large and small units of subject matter at all levels of complexity.

Reality: Instructional Design can start at any point in the design process. Often a glimmer of an idea is developed to give the core of an instruction situation. By the time the entire process is done the designer looks back and she or he checks to see that all parts of the “science” have been taken into account. Then the entire process is written up as if it occurred in a systematic fashion.”[4]

“The term instructional design refers to the systematic and reflective process of translating the principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation.” [5]

As you see, there many definitions of instructional design and most of them similar to each other. Because of that, we have to focus on the main issue and work on it. We want to deliver all information to the audience in a true way. We have to create our materials for our audience and we have to know our audience very well. We have to know them. We can say that preparation is the most significant part of the instructional design.

Let me share some information with the multimedia format. You will find a few videos below and all of these videos are only on this blog post in order.

What is Instructional Design?

In this video, Dr. Gardner from Franklin University explains what instructional design is to MS Degree students of Instructional Design and Performance Technology. The is 4 minutes and 46 seconds and very useful to understand out topic.

Resources;

[1] https://online.purdue.edu/ldt/learning-design-technology/resources/what-is-instructional-design ,15/03/2019
[2] https://educationaltechnology.net/definitions-instructional-design/ , 15/03/2019
[3] Siemens, G. (2002). Instructional design in elearning. Retrieved January, 21, 2013. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/InstructionalDesign.htm
[4] Sara McNeil, http://www.coe.uh.edu/courses/cuin6373/whatisid.html
[5] Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional design (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructional_design 15/03/2019

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Introducing Adobe Captivate Draft: Storyboard and design eLearning on your iPad

One of the greatest new features in Adobe Captivate 9 is the addition of a pre-production workflow for Captivate. In fact with the addition of Adobe Captivate Draft for pre-production design and storyboarding, and the addition of Adobe Captivate Prime (an all new LMS from Adobe) it is now possible to complete your entire eLearning […]