6 Factors To Consider When Estimating eLearning Course Development Time

This article is all about estimating eLearning course development time. There are the some areas I have identified that will help Instructional Designers plan their courses and finish them within the deadlines.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

eLearning Solutions: 5 Ways Τo Balance Τhe Time-Cost-Quality Triad

There are always ways to be creative and flexible, and there are things to be done, or cannot be done, to design high-quality eLearning solutions when time and cost are a challenge. Here are 5 of them.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Difficult Question: How Much Time Will An eLearning Course Development Take?

How Much Time Will An eLearning Course Development Take? 

We all are aware that designing training or eLearning course materials is as much of science as of art. And “how much time will an eLearning course development take” is a common question that is often asked in this industry. All professionals who are involved in creating a course often want an easy way to predict how much time it would take them to complete a single course. But is there any such way?

Scenario

In one of the recent brainstorming sessions held at a company event, a team of novices and experienced were presented with a scenario. The group was provided with a slide deck of about 25-30 slides and two PDFs. They were asked how much time it would take them to come up with an eLearning with medium-to-low level interactivity and three to four knowledge check questions. The highest time quoted was three months and the lowest was thirty minutes. Now the immediate question that comes to mind is why there is such a range of estimates, as well as what are the factors responsible for it.

Actual Time Versus Elapsed Time / Project Time

Now the initial point of concern was within the ambiguity of the question. We did not explicitly mention in the question that whether the estimate we sought from the members was the total course duration or the actual efforts spent on designing and developing the course. The novice members were led to believe that the question asked about the actual development time whereas the experienced folks thought it would be better to consider the wider aspects of the project.

  • Factors influencing actual time.
    Usually when you talk of the actual time spent on course development, your mind automatically thinks of the time you sit in front of the eLearning tool and design each screen. However, there are several other factors that influence the actual course development time. Here are a few of them to begin with:

    1. What is the length of the course.
      It is an obvious fact that a one-hour eLearning course would take more time to develop than a 20-minute eLearning course.
    2. Readiness of the material.
      A course will take lesser time to develop if the materials available for the development are in a much better phase than a fresh initiative which would consume plenty of time scoping and researching.
    3. How many Subject Matter Experts are involved.
      It is obviously easier to work and manage time with a single head than working with a bunch of Subject Matter Experts and taking into account varied opinions at different point of time.
    4. How complex is the eLearning.
      A simple course that has standard text and images is going to use much less resources when compared to a course which has high level of interactivity including, branches, quizzing, interactions and gaming.
    5. Which authoring tool are we using.
      If we are using Articulate Storyline, for instance, the development time will be a lot quicker than dedicated development using Adobe Flash.
  • Factors influencing elapsed time or project time.
    Elapsed time depends on the actual time but it is usually greater. The primary factors that influence the elapsed time include:

    1. How many stakeholders are involved.
      In case there are a large number of stakeholders involved, it is quite natural for the development time to increase by leaps and bounds.
    2. What is the location of these stakeholders.
      If you could just walk up to the desk of the stakeholder to clarify a minor doubt rather than having to schedule a conference call to do the same, your development time would progress faster.
    3. What is the availability of the stakeholders.
      Most of the stakeholders are extremely busy in their day jobs. Hence, taking out time to meet and answer your questions, provide relevant inputs to your doubts and concerns, schedule time to review your course will play a huge role in determining the lifecycle of your project.

To Sum Up

Is there a 100% accurate answer whether we know how much time would an eLearning course development take? Most probably, there isn’t. However, all we can do is work our best estimate. The next when somebody puts forth this question “Is it possible for you to create this 15-minute eLearning within 2 weeks?”, you will have a better answer to that.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

9 Tips On How To Make Time To Finally Create Your Online Course

How To Make Time To Finally Create Your Online Course

We all need more hours in a day. Time has become the biggest roadblock standing between us and our dreams. Or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

I-just-don’t-have-time-for-it.

No time for learning a new language, although it would be really nice to massage the tongue with the sounds of French or Italian.

No time to research those pension investment options that everyone is talking about.

No time for morning jogs or evening pilates classes.

No time for crafting that online course you’ve been obsessing about for months.

Because you-just-don’t-have-time-for-it.

How do I know you’re lying to yourself?

Well, you are reading this article, while you could be learning a new language, doing yoga, or mapping out your course.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered, but the truth is - you do have time, you just don’t manage it very well.

And that we can fix. If you’re still here.

1. Is it something that would be nice to have?

Before you set out on this adventure, the most important thing to establish is why you’re doing it. Do you really truly want to create an eLearning course or is it just something that would be nice to have? I’ve been planning to learn to play chess since I read my first Sherlock Holmes story about 15 years ago. Although I still find the game terribly sophisticated, the idea has never made it to my must-haves list (I just continue to dream about it).

Image credit to: Dimitra Tzanos

Image credit to: Dimitra Tzanos

If you’re a bit like me and your motivation is built on a house of cards, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get started. Not because it’s extremely difficult to create an online course, just because you don’t want it badly enough.

Think about the people who queue for two days to get the new iPhone or people who go to gym every bleedin’ day to flex those muscles like Rocky himself was watching them. That’s motivation. Be more like them. Leave the niceness behind. Say that you really want it and then sweat for it.

2. One BIG goal at a time.

I often have a hundred things that I want to do and learn (usually all at the same time). It is not manageable to juggle a bunch of life projects at once, but I still continue to torture myself with the guilty thoughts of wasting my life every time I log onto Netflix. Multitasking is a myth. It robs us off the opportunity to enjoy the process of achieving important milestones as we buzz around ticking to do lists.

Having too many goals will drive you to the ground - you’ll start losing energy without getting any results. And that will not help you stay pumped-up for your mission. So pick one big goal that you will concentrate on and plough on. Depending on how skilled you are, it may only take you a few weeks or maybe a month to create an online course. Can you postpone the other dreams while you’re realizing this one?

3. Show that you’re serious.

If developing an eLearning course has become your next big project, it’s time to officially commit. Sit down and make a plan of all the project stages: What steps do you have to take to accomplish this goal? Assign time estimates to each stage to calculate a rough final deadline - it will help you to track your progress and stay focused. There’s always that possibility that you’ll just ignore the deadline and the plan altogether (let’s face it, it’s a bit like taking a gym membership), but in that case, we’re back to square one - how badly do you want it? Every stage of your plan should clearly state: a) What needs to be done, b) how you will do it and c) how long it will take you. It’s the only recipe for productive work, so make sure all the ingredients are there.

4. Make it your priority by reducing other commitments.

giphy

Quick meetings for coffee, online shopping, binge-watching TV series, playing silly games on your phone, catching up with your favorite show, napping or having too much wine at 8pm - these are just a few temptations that will be lurking around, waiting for your moment of weakness. Giving in to your typical indulgences will deter you from the goal.

So how can you reduce the unnecessary commitments to the minimum while working on that dream? Well, here are a few simple ideas to try: 1) Tell your friends and family what you’re up to and make them promise to keep the distractions to a minimum; 2) treat yourself with something exciting when you achieve your milestones on time; 3) when you get distracted, write the random ideas down to follow up afterwards - it will help you stay in the moment; 4) visualize a steady decline in future incomes every time you waste time on unplanned tasks. Keep your eyes on the sea, captain!

5.  Block off time.

Having time is a luxury. No one has time. But you make time for the things that have a special place in your heart. It’s all a matter of one’s priorities. So if you need to, go as far as blocking off time in your calendar for meetings with yourself or for your creative time. It will also serve as a precautionary measure to make sure you don’t plan any outings with friends on that day because you “forgot you have to work on this thing”. iCalendar makes it very hard to fool yourself these days.

6. Keep it simple.

If your plan is to put together a course on English grammar that includes 5 video lectures, 3 practical exercises, and 2 interviews in a week, chances are you’ll drop the idea very quickly. It’s just a little too overwhelming. One of the most successful tactics in overcoming the brain’s natural resistance to a huge load of work is to chunk it up. Or keep it simple.

If you break your big project into smaller tasks, every time you complete one, you’ll feel like a champion. It’s important to maintain the enthusiasm levels high, so be smart and don’t attempt to outrun yourself. Every great success starts from a step in the right direction. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Photo Credit: Helena Constela via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Helena Constela via Compfight cc

7. Stay focused.

When working on large-scale projects, people often tend to go through a dark phase that sees their determination quiver. Suddenly, the whole project seems like a hot mess. You will agree that it’s not the most energizing feeling in the world. So it’s important to leave reminders for your future-self why you are doing this: Schedule emails, leave post-it notes on a fridge, or stick a poster on your bedroom wall. Do what works for you, but don’t leave your future-self marinating in self-doubt. Seriously, not cool.

8. The first 30 mins of your day are for you.

Planning your day first thing in the morning is the best way to ensure that you don’t over-book or forget anything important. It doesn’t have to be a very detailed, neat plan - sometimes it’s enough to simply ask yourself “what do I need to accomplish today?” and make a mental note of that goal. Think about it as your no-nonsense shopping list: Get things done and get out.

9. Guard your time.

If you don’t have a “do not disturb” sign yet, it’s about time to purchase one. You will see that everyone’s after a piece of you… Learn not to pick up calls just because the phone is ringing: Your me-time is just as important and shouldn’t be interrupted. Log out of your social media accounts and mute phone and email notifications when you get ready to do some work. It may not seem like much, but you will soon notice that minimizing distractions helps you maintain a laser-sharp focus and uncluttered mind. That’s just the kind of peace you need to develop something outstanding.

Now take a deep breath and make it happen. Download the free help guide and build your money-making online course.

twitter-elearning-guide

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Are Subject Matter Experts Slowing Down Your eLearning Production Process?

How To Speed Up eLearning Projects By Involving Your Subject Matter Experts  

You’ve jumped through hoops to get an eLearning project scheduled with your busy team and they are all ready to run, but your Subject Matter Expert hasn’t yet come up with the content. Or, you’ve busted your bones turning around a great eLearning project in record time only to be left with your team waiting idly to get the review back from your Subject Matter Expert. Sound familiar? If you’ve been in the eLearning industry for even a short amount of time, you’re probably nodding knowingly.

If Subject Matter Experts are holding you up, this article will give you some ideas on how you can speed up production by involving them more effectively.

1. Empower Subject Matter Experts to add content directly inside your authoring tool. 

Simplicity

Allowing your Subject Matter Expert to create courses themselves can help you save time and keep costs down. If you are concerned about instructional and design standards, there are eLearning tools that let you easily create courses from a Master Theme (template). Since these themes are already designed and developed, Subject Matter Experts have the structure needed to produce high-quality eLearning that is consistent with your other courses. This will help you create more projects quickly and reduce the costs associated with hiring additional staff.

Later, during reviews and iterations, instead of having to copy and paste new content or amendments, ask your Subject Matter Expert to add it directly to the course themselves. This saves you from having to repeat the work that they have already done. Cloud-based tools, such as Elucidat, help make the process easy. Simply give your Subject Matter Expert access to edit the course and they can jump online from their own computer.

There’s no need for you to package the files up and send them via email, nor is there a need to manage multiple versions of the course. All changes are automatically saved and synchronized so anyone working on the project is always using the latest version.

2. Keep Subject Matter Experts in the loop throughout the entire project. 

in_the_loop

Instead of just bringing Subject Matter Experts in when you need them, involve them early so you can make sure they clearly understand your eLearning development process, your project goals and your objectives.

Early collaboration can help your Subject Matter Expert buy in to what you’re developing. By involving Subject Matter Experts early, they will feel more like a part of the team. This will make it easier to keep communication channels open and avoid any mistakes.

3. Embrace online collaboration. 

elucidat-collaboration-tool1

Subject Matter Experts are busy people with full-time jobs. You’ll often run into delays when you’re waiting for your Subject Matter Expert to review your projects. To keep costs under control, you should try to remove any bottlenecks.

It can be particularly challenging when you have two or more Subject Matter Experts working on one project. To ensure you keep everyone on track, make sure you use tools with inbuilt review and feedback functionality so you can track changes and monitor version control.

If you’re still asking stakeholders to review eLearning in a Word document with screenshots, you’re wasting valuable time and money. This process is difficult to track and manage. Instead of relying on email and Word docs, use online tools to collaborate, review and share feedback in real time.

Related: Why online collaboration is the answer to your team's efficiency problem

Final Suggestions To Help You Better Involve Subject Matter Experts

  1. Make sure everyone reviewing the project has access to the most up-to-date version.
    The best way to do this is to use an eLearning tool that automatically updates and keeps the project current.
  2. Use a tool that tracks and manages review cycles and changes.
    For example, Elucidat has an easy-to-use comment tool that lets Subject Matter Experts add notes for the rest of the team. You can quickly see what changes or additions have been made and who made those changes.
  3. Use a tool that lets you sign off on changes inside the project itself.
    This makes it easy to keep the updates and changes together in one place.

Stay on top of the latest eLearning ideas, trends and technologies by subscribing to the Elucidat weekly newsletter.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Factors To Consider When Calculating Seat Time In eLearning

Calculating Seat Time in eLearning

In a previous article I shared tips for calculating seat time in eLearning, so that you can offer organizations and learners a clear idea of how much time they will need to allocate for the eLearning process. In this article, I'll be exploring the various factors you may want to consider when creating your completion estimate, to offer you the opportunity to fine tune your calculations and more effectively determine your eLearning seat time for your eLearning deliverables.

  1. Complexity of subject matter.
    Usually, a complex subject matter requires more screens if you want to effectively analyze all of its aspects and present adequate examples. As a general rule, the seat time for one screen is roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute. In addition to the number of screens you're including, it's also important to account for the content included in those screens. For example, if you have created a screen that gradually reveals information or an interactive learning activity that requires numerous drag and drop interactions, then this will take more time to complete that a text based screen. If you are creating screens that may be more complex, it may be wise to do a test run before you develop your time estimations to get a better idea of how long it might take to complete each individual screen.
  2. Complexity of multimedia elements.
    The structure and interactive components of your eLearning course are also major considerations when estimating seat time in eLearning.  For example, what is the nature of your multimedia elements? Have you included highly interactive simulations that walk learners through a complex process, or a branching scenario that leads to a variety of different outcomes? Or, are you integrating a more simple and straightforward audio narration that doesn't require any clickable actions? Also, are learners able to skip passed certain audio, or will they have to sit through them in order to progress to the next lesson or module? If you are unsure about the seat time of more complicated or technologically advanced content, then you may want to create an estimate for each one individually and factor that into your overall estimate at the end.
  3. Amount of text.
    The vocabulary you use and the amount of text you've created has a direct impact upon the seat time of your eLearning course. While a page with minimal or bullet pointed text may take just a few seconds to read, one that contains lengthy paragraphs might require a greater time commitment. Bear in mind that we humans tend to read twice as fast as we speak. Therefore, one minute of video might translate to 30 seconds of reading time for your learners. Also, you will have to factor in the size and font type of your text, as larger fonts may take less time to read, while more elaborate fonts might require more time to comprehend, especially if they aren't used elsewhere in the eLearning course, as your learners will have to adjust to the change.
  4. Time allotment for critical thinking and problem solving exercises.
    There are going to be certain learning activities or lessons that are more complex or challenging, which means that they'll take more time to work through. As such, you will probably want to leave room in your seat time estimate for exercises that require a great deal of critical thinking or problem solving, as well as those that prompt learner reflection or knowledge recall. If you have created a more interactive assessment, such as one that involves a number of drag and drop interactions or eLearning games, then this will take up more seat time. The human mind takes time to absorb information and commit it to long term memory. It cannot be rushed, so these basic human processes cannot be rushed if you want your eLearning course to offer real value for your learners.
  5. Background of your learners.
    The educational, professional, and cultural background of your audience also plays a part when calculating seat time in eLearning. For example, if you are working with adults who are new to the industry, then they are probably going to take more time to complete the eLearning course than learners who have been in the business for a number of years. This is why it's important to research your audience beforehand and learn as much as you can about their learning needs and preferences. Conduct surveys to find out if they have ever taken an eLearning course before or if they know how to use eLearning interactive elements effectively. In addition, you will want to analyze whether your audience has explored the topic in the past. For instance, if they are relatively new to the subject matter, then they will probably take more time to complete the eLearning course than those who may be well versed in the theories and ideas involved. They won't be able to navigate through the simulations rapidly or answer the assessment questions as quickly, given that they don't have any pre-existing knowledge to draw upon when completing the eLearning course.

Remember to account for these all-important factors when calculating the seat time in eLearning, so that you are able to more effectively gauge how long learners will need to get the most out of their eLearning experience.

If you'd like to learn some additional tips for calculating seat time in eLearning, the article 6 Tips To Calculate Seat Time in eLearning features top tips that will help you estimate the time it will take your learners to complete your eLearning course.

Moreover, in the article 6 Tips To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length you will find additional key factors that you'll want to bear in mind when estimating your eLearning course length. This will allow you to create eLearning courses that are just long enough to achieve the desired learning objectives, but still short enough to avoid learner boredom and frustration.

Do you want to know all about the important considerations when estimating your eLearning course development time? In the article, 6 Tips to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time you will find everything you need to know to estimate the development time of your eLearning course as accurately as possible.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Effective eLearning Course Development: 7 Tips For eLearning Professionals

Effective eLearning Course Development

There's no secret formula behind developing powerful eLearning experiences. It's impossible to create an all-inclusive list that highlights each and every element you should include in your eLearning course, because each one is wholly unique. However, in this article I'll share a variety of invaluable tips that can help you develop effective and engaging eLearning courses, regardless of your subject matter or your audience.

  1. Learn as much as possible about your learners beforehand.
    Before you even begin to develop your next eLearning course, you must have a keen understanding of who you are developing it for. This will give you a clear indication of what your learners expect to take away from the eLearning experience and which skill sets or knowledge they need to acquire. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews that will give you invaluable information in order to analyze your audience. Then, you can use this information to develop your curriculum and your learning activities based upon their specific learning needs and goals.
  2. Develop a thorough outline that highlights key objectives.
    An outline will serve as a guide as you move forward, a sort of road map that will allow you to keep a close eye on the learning goals and objectives. Be as detailed as possible when creating this outline and make sure that you highlight all of the key aspects of the eLearning course, including the estimated page/slide count, any interactive elements you'd like to integrate, and the main ideas you need to give to your learners.
  3. Include a variety of learning activities.
    One of the most essential eLearning course tips that I can offer you is to remember that not all learners will acquire information the same way. While some might be better served by interactive scenarios and games, others will absorb more knowledge if it's delivered via an audio presentation or graphics. As such, when developing your eLearning course integrate a wide range of learning activities. It's important to remember that not all learners are going to benefit from the same exercises and activities, so mix things up and try to include a number of different exercises and activities that serve every member of your audience.
  4. Keep the learning experience digestible.
    Cognitive overload is the enemy of all eLearning professionals. When this occurs, information simply cannot be absorbed and retained effectively, which means that the eLearning course cannot possibly offer your learner any real value. Therefore, you'll need to keep everything in bite-sized form, so that your learners are able to digest the information they need and commit it to their long term memory for later use. Don't fill the page with an abundance of graphics or images just for the sake of aesthetic appeal. Instead, opt for more white space, bullet point text, and bolded captions for emphasis.
  5. Take full advantage of eLearning authoring tools.
    Thanks to constantly evolving eLearning technologies, eLearning professionals now have a myriad of eLearning authoring tools available to them. You should be using every tool at your disposal to create meaningful learning experiences for your learners. Gather all your eLearning authoring tools and any other design aid you may have, before developing your eLearning course and figure out how you can take the full advantage of them. Moreover, research about any additional eLearning authoring tool that can save you time and resources during the development process.
  6. Assessments aren't just for the end of the course.
    As any eLearning professional will attest, assessments are essential to the eLearning process. However, instead of just placing them at the end of your eLearning course, why not integrate them after each module, in order to boost knowledge retention? They can serve as great recaps and reviews for your learners, giving them the opportunity to brush up on key concepts and to absorb information more effectively. Also, try to get creative when developing your assessments. Include a wide range of question formats (multiple choice, true/false, essay, etc) and make them interactive, if possible. For instance, you can create an assessment that includes a scenario or real world example that make the experience more powerful and memorable.
  7. Tie everything into real world benefits.
    Every single aspect of your eLearning course, from the multimedia elements to the learning activities, must offer your learners real world value. So, when developing the eLearning course, always stay focused on the real world benefits that each module is going to offer your learners. How does the subject matter tie into a real world context, and what information can you give your learners that will help them to achieve their personal and/or professional goals? Scenarios, simulations, games, and real world stories from your personal experience are all perfect examples of learning activities that give your learners the opportunity to make choices that they might encounter in the real world, and to learn about the consequences (good or bad) of those choices in a risk-free environment. Ideally, you should inform the learners of the real world benefits that they can expect to receive at the introduction of the eLearning course, and then remind them periodically, so they can stay motivated and excited about the learning process.

Keep these tips for effective eLearning course development at-the-ready to create eLearning experiences that are always on target and offer your audience the skills and knowledge they need to reach their personal and professional goals.

Before you begin developing your online course, it's best to have a clear idea of how much time it will take to create an effective and entertaining eLearning deliverable. The article How to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time offers 6 top tips for estimating your eLearning course development time.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Calculate Seat Time In eLearning

How To Calculate Seat Time In eLearning

The seat time is the time it takes a learner to complete an eLearning course. Knowing the seat time is particularly important if you are designing corporate training deliverables because it will give you a general idea of how much time employees will need to set aside from their work, in order to complete their online training.

  1. Traditional classroom vs. eLearning.
    If you are creating an eLearning course with learning materials that were previously used in a traditional classroom setting, keep in mind that seat time in eLearning can be reduced by about 50%. Of course, this greatly depends upon the types of eLearning activities you integrate and the nature of the subject matter. However, as a general rule, eLearning can accomplish much more in a shorter amount of seat time.
  2. Use focus groups.
    Using focus groups may be time consuming and may require additional resources, however it worths the investment since it will allow you to calculate your seat time more accurately, given that you can determine how long it takes the group to complete your eLearning course. To do this, you can simply ask the focus group to complete the eLearning course as they would normally do. It's key that they understand that they should go at a pace at which they successfully acquire and absorb the information. Once every member of the group has completed the eLearning course, you just add the individual seat times and divide by the number of participants. This will give you the average seat time per learner.
  3. Consider the nature of your eLearning activities.
    When trying to calculate the seat time of your eLearning deliverable, you will need to consider the type of eLearning activities you've included. For example, if you have integrated an abundance of text-based modules, then the seat time would be less than that of an eLearning course with many video lectures, given that learners tend to read faster than someone who is speaking in a video lecture. However, it's important to choose the nature of your eLearning activities based upon the needs of the learners, rather than just the seat time. For instance, if your eLearning course needs to teach learners a new skill, then they would probably benefit more from interactive scenarios or simulations, even though this would take more seat time than just reading the text with the instructions. More interactive elements may require more time, but they also offer greater benefits for the learners.
  4.  Always leave room for learner reflection and critical thinking.
    Your learners are humans, not robots. Therefore, they are going to need some time to think, reflect, and absorb the information you are giving them. This is why you need to always leave room in your seat time estimate for these mental processes. Some tasks and learning activities may require more critical thinking time, such as assessments or simulations, so keep that in mind, as well. Also, if you have an abundance of text in your eLearning course or plenty of emotionally-compelling stories, you will need to give them time to actually think about the topic or ideas and to emotionally connect with the content. Analyze every eLearning activity and module within your eLearning course, so that you can accurately gauge the seat time for every learning experience within the eLearning course.
  5. Remember that different learners acquire information at different rates.
    No two learners are alike. Just as every learner will respond differently to various eLearning activities, so will they acquire and absorb information at different speeds. While one learner might complete your eLearning course in half an hour, another might take 45 minutes to make his/her way through all of the modules. As such, it's important to get a diverse group of individual learners involved in your focus group. This will allow you to calculate a seat time estimate that accounts for different learner behaviors and needs. Other factors to consider when estimating seat time, especially for corporate training deliverables, is the age of your audience and their educational and/or professional background. For example, if you are creating an online training session for more mature professionals who are new to the industry, this will boost the required seat time, and it will be higher than if your audience was comprised mainly of younger or more experienced employees.
  6. You don't have to be precise!
    You shouldn't stress about being precise when calculating seat time in eLearning. In fact, it's perfectly acceptable to just give a rough estimate of how long it will take to complete it. For instance, you could estimate that it will take about 20 to 25 minutes to finish the eLearning course if you would prefer to give a time window rather than a specific number. Also, don't forget to adjust the estimate if any additional eLearning activities or materials need to be integrated into the eLearning course, or if items need to be removed.

Use these tips for calculating seat time in eLearning to figure out just how long it will take your learners to complete your eLearning deliverables, while also ensuring that you offer effective and meaningful eLearning experiences.

Moreover, in the article Tips To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length you will find 6 additional key factors that you'll want to bear in mind when estimating your eLearning course length. This will allow you to create eLearning courses that are just long enough to achieve the desired learning objectives, but still short enough to avoid learner boredom and frustration.

Do you want to know all about the important considerations when estimating your eLearning course development time? In the article, 6 Tips to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time you will find everything you need to know to estimate the development time of your eLearning course as accurately as possible.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time


How to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time

While you may have a firm grasp on the content, the images, and the interactive elements you'll be including in your eLearning deliverable, figuring out how much time you'll need to complete all of these tasks can be somewhat challenging. After all, you'll want to ensure that you're providing your client with an accurate quote and that you've accounted for every hour you'll have to devote to the design and development process. But have no fear, this guide will explain how to estimate your eLearning course development time and will also give you step by step look at what you need to assess throughout the process.

  1. Research and planning.
    This is the first step in the process, and it also happens to be the most important. This is the time when you research your target audience and begin creating the eLearning course objectives and then overview them. You gather your team and assign responsibilities, as well as expectations. You gather all of your tools, so that you know what and how to use each one to the best of your ability. All of these can take a significant amount of time. In order to estimate this step, you'll want to sit down with your team and figure out how much time they'll need to complete their end of the bargain. Also, determine how much time you'll need to wrap up the research. For example, if you are going to conduct surveys and in-person interviews, all of these tasks will need to be included in the time estimate.
  2. Storyboarding and graphic selection.
    The storyboard is the heart of every eLearning deliverable. It serves as a guide for both the project manager and the rest of the team. Therefore, it can take a fair amount of time to create this detailed overview, but it's worth every minute. Don't underestimate the storyboard process when calculating your time, as this won't allow you to devote enough hours to actually mapping out the eLearning course. During this step you'll also have to choose a template, graphics, and any other important design element that you'll need, which can also be time consuming. This is due to the fact that the design will be carried throughout the entire eLearning course, meaning that it must reflect the brand image and the theme of the subject matter, not to mention that also every individual element must tie together.
  3. Content creation and instructional design.
    There's a lot of work that goes into the content creation and the instructional design of an eLearning course. A variety of tasks must be accounted for when determining this aspect of your eLearning course development time. For example, you have to ask yourself “should I hire a subject matter expert to ensure that I include all of the key concepts?” Or, “do I need a professional writer to make the copy informative and engaging, and how should the layout of every module be?” You'll want to speak with all parties involved, whether they are members of your team or eLearning freelancers to whom you have outsourced a part of the project, to determine how much time every task will take.
  4. Multimedia production. 
    Creating rich multimedia for your eLearning course, such as videos, podcasts, effective scenarios, and games require a lot of time. As such, you will need to look at each element individually in order to figure out how many hours each one will take. For example, if you are creating a slide show that features music, think about how much time you'll require to develop each slide, add the proper content, and then integrate the music, so that it corresponds to the mood of the slide show as it progresses. Also, think about how much time it will take to choose the proper graphics, to edit them and then to integrate those as well. As you can see, even something as seemingly simple and straightforward as a presentation can become quite an ordeal in terms of resources and working hours.
  5. Programming and authoring.
    These technical aspects of the eLearning course design must also factor into your time estimate. If these things aren't your specialty, then you'll need to speak with a programmer or an instructional designer who will be authoring the eLearning course, to get a clear idea of how much time they will need to complete the task at hand. Also, you'll have to consider whether or not they are knowledgeable of the authoring tool(s) you'll be using. If not, then training time will also have to be factored into the equation. If the programming language is more complex or the eLearning course requires a great deal of coding, then you'll have to consider this before you calculate your eLearning course development time estimate.
  6. Testing and revisions.
    Finally, it's time to assess how long it will take to proofread, test the finished eLearning course, and to carry out revisions, if necessary. This step of the process may include focus groups, individual testing sessions followed by interviews or surveys to get invaluable feedback, and even client demonstrations. Then, if errors or glitches are found, you'll have to make time for revisions and any changes that the client requests. They may also need you to help them operate the eLearning course in the beginning, until they grow accustom to its nuances, which means that you'll need to set aside time to show the HR department or learning coordinator how to access the eLearning course, etc.

Remember to always expect the unexpected when you estimate your eLearning course development time. Leave room for project emergencies, mistakes, or additions that you may not have anticipated, in order to ensure that your bid is always spot-on, in both terms of money and time.

In addition, mistakes can be costly, both in terms of money and time. The article Common Mistakes In The Development Of An eLearning Course highlights 10 common mistakes that you'll want to avoid when developing an eLearning course, in order to stay on- budget and on-deadline.

Also, would you like to know the most important factors to keep in mind when estimating you eLearning course development time? The article Important Factors for Estimating eLearning Course Development Time features the most important factors that you should take into consideration.

Last but not least, would you like to create eLearning courses that are just long enough to achieve the desired learning objectives, but still short enough to avoid learner boredom and frustration? You are more than welcome to read the article 6 Tips To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length

How To Estimate Your eLearning Course Length

At one time or another, each one of us has been made to endure a course or a lecture that seemed to last for hours. Not only are such courses/lectures frustrating, thanks to their nightmarish length, but they don't really encourage learner excitement or motivation. At a certain point, the learner’s mind tends to switch off and grows tired of the experience, which means that he/she is no longer receptive to new information. The same is also true for lengthy eLearning courses. The key to eLearning success is achieving a perfect balance of learner engagement and knowledge absorption by creating an eLearning course that's just the right length.

  1. Get an accurate gauge of exactly how much content you need to include.
    Speaking with a subject matter expert is often the most effective way to determine what content must be included, and what pieces of information can be left out. Getting a clear idea of what content needs to be added into the eLearning course will allow you to gauge how many screens you'll need to include, as well as how you are going to deliver the content. For example, one sub-topic may be ideally suited for plain text, while another may require detailed imagery, slide shows, or virtual scenarios. This means that you'll probably have to gather all of the information you're going to need to give to the learner, and then map out where each piece of data fits into the “puzzle”. Creating a story board gives you the opportunity to set aside enough space and time for each lesson or activity, so that your eLearning course length estimate will be as accurate as possible. Developing a detailed overview of the eLearning course ahead of time will also give you the opportunity to consider the number of slides you'll be using, which is a one of the most crucial steps in creating your eLearning Course estimate.
  2. Consider the amount and complexity of the interactive elements.
    The complexity of the various interactive elements you'll be including has a significant impact upon the length of your eLearning course. For example, if you are designing an interactive game, you need to account for the fact that some learners may need more time to complete each level, while others may breeze right through it. You'll also want to consider how many interactive elements you'll be integrating. This will enable you to determine if there may be too many, which can make your course too lengthy, or too few, which may take away from learner engagement and motivation.
  3. Are you going to integrate video and audio elements?
    Video and audio elements have a specific run time, which should also be factored into your eLearning course length estimate. If you are integrating multimedia such as video or audio narratives, or even music, into your eLearning course, then keep in mind that they can significantly extend the length. Also, learners may choose to pause the multimedia, which would make it even longer. As such, when creating your estimate, always leave a bit of room for slower playbacks or pauses, and be sure to include the most important video and audio elements into your development plan before adding in the ones that can be omitted, just in case you may need to cut down on the length at some point later.
  4. Research your eLearning audience to know what information they need.
    In order to determine how much information to include, and how to deliver that information, you'll first need to have an idea of what your audience already knows. Are they tech-savvy? Do they already have experience within their industry, or are they newcomers? What is their educational background? What prior experience do they have? These are all questions that, when answered, will enable you to include information that is relevant and valuable for your learning audience, rather than teaching them about concepts that they already know. Conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to research your learners and figure out what knowledge they are expecting to acquire, as this will help you when estimating eLearning course length for any deliverable.
  5. Pay close attention to navigability.
    Navigability must always factor in when you're determining your eLearning course’s length. ELearning courses that are challenging to navigate, such as those that do not contain legible “next” buttons, are going to be lengthier. This is why it's all-important to ensure that your eLearning course features simple and straightforward navigation. Buttons should be in plain sight, and every link should be valid. Making an aesthetically pleasant eLearning course is important, but be cautious. To elaborate navigation icons just for the sake of aesthetic will only cause unneeded stress and frustration to the learners and can make your eLearning course go well over its expected length.
  6. Leave some room in the estimate for the unexpected.
    Last, but certainly not least, always leave room in your estimate for slides, multimedia elements, or another component that may go over the length you've calculated. There are simply some aspects of your eLearning course design that won't go according to plan. Maybe you'll have to extend a video to include an extra piece of content, or add in a few extra slides that you thought were unnecessary, but now realize are essential. Leave some space to account for the unexpected, so that you can save yourself a headache further down the line.

To sum up, the eLearning course length can't be too long or too short...it has to be just right. By using these tips for how to estimate eLearning course length, you can create a solid development time line for your next eLearning deliverable, and ensure that your eLearning course is both educational and engaging.

Want to know more about estimating development time for your next deliverable? The article Estimating an eLearning Course Development Time highlights 5 important factors that you'll want to consider when determining how much time you'll need to complete your eLearning course or online training event.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.