The following is a summary of my presentation at the ElNet E-Learning Project Management Adventures Congress being held in North Sydney on June 14, 2013.
Have you ever been caught in the middle between what a project sponsor or subject matter expert (SME) wants to deliver and what you know to be good learning design? Has good e-learning practice every been thrown out the window because of someone else's sense of urgency?
We need to appreciate the perspective of the SME, take control of the urgency and get clarity around what's required.
Six (6) Questions To E-Learning Project Clarity
Ask the project sponsor the following six questions:
- Are your sure the need requires a training solution? Is it really a knowledge/skill deficit? Or is it an aptitude, communication or incentive issue? In many situations, the solution needs to be a co-ordinated combination of training, communication and people management.
- What is the nature of your content & intended learning outcomes? Is it factual, conceptual, procedural or problem-solving? The training strategies will be different, depending upon the content and learning outcomes.
- Who is the intended audience? How computer literate are they? What is their access to a computer like? What is their experience with learning technologies and self-directedness? What is their experience and knowledge of the content? What management support is available to enable the transfer of learning into the workplace?
- What evidence is required (if any)? Does the training solution really need to go onto a Learning Manageent System (LMS)? Are you really going to track and report sompletions? If not, then use webinars or performance support strategies such as on-demand videos.
- What is your time/cost/quality 'sweet spot'? If you have little time and budget, then this will impact quality. If you want top quality in a short amount of time, then this will impact budget? ...and so it goes. What will you compromise and how will this affect the end user and learning outcomes?
- How are we going to work together? Decisions will need to be made throughout the development cycle. Subject Matter Experts who stay at arms length usually end up with a solution that does not meet their expectations. The internal e-learning team has certain expertise and can support the process, but often are not the owners of the e-learning course. Refer to blog post Who Owns Corporate E-Learning Courses? Roles and Responsibilities for more information.
A HANDY RESOURCE: Click this link to download a checklist to support e-learning project task allocation between the SME, the internal e-learning team and the external e-learning provider.
How to help avoid future reactive behaviour?
Put e-learning project governance in place. Make overt the process for any e-learning project, and ensure your stakeholders follow this process. After all, this is not new practice. Processes are in place in may parts of business - all we are doing is using the same language and rigor as is expected by any CEO.
Here is a list of governance templates that you can create. Ensure the project sponsor fills out and signs off. They may need your help. That's a good thing.
- E-Learning Project Plan Template: Include project brief, project team, resource requirements, audience parameters, reporting parameters, change management, timeframes, budget, project constraints, exclusions, document management etc.
- E-Learning Design Brief Template: Include an assessment of current training (whats working, what's not and why), learning objectives, topics for inclusion, assessment requirements, instructional design approach, visual design, use of narration, quality management, style and function guide, output requirements etc. Include a checklist for quality control.
- E-Learning User Acceptance Test (UAT) Process Template: Ensure your testers include both subject matter experts (to check the accuracy of the content) and typical end users (to assess experience and expected learning outcomes).
- LMS Metadata Template: This helps ensure complete and accurate metadate about the course that will be entered onto the LMS.
- Closure Report Template: Include an executive summary, reason for closure, project outcomes versus objectives, project performance against time/cost/quality expectations, project issues and lessons learned, any outstanding issues, recommendations, file location.
Got any e-learning project management processes or tips that work for you? Please leave a comment and share.
Want more? See Tom Kuhlmann's blog post How to overcome the challenge of working with subject matter experts.