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The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on June 9, 2013
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.
By Alison Bickford on April 20, 2013
Video podcast 34 is the third in a series of five videos exploring the role of change management when implementing a learning technology strategy; such as e-learning courseware, a Learning Management System, webinar, social media or a video platform for performance support. This video examines an learning and development or training department functional perspective to managing change. It explores 5 areas of impact:
- Team readiness to use technology
- The LMS
- Learning assessment
- Striving for excellence
- Preparing managers and learners
Why not download this free training resource from iTunes.
Or read the transcript
Or watch the entire free tutorial series on our YouTube Channel (video podcast 34 is embedded below)
By Alison Bickford on March 9, 2013
What I mean is that I want to ensure a person who is new to e-learning:
a) knows what they are getting into from an effort perspective (a topic of many blog posts in the past), and
b) doesn’t think e-learning development is as simple as dumping content into a rapid authoring tool, branding it and sending it out into the world of unsuspecting learners and customers. I want the person who is new to e-learning to understand what quality looks like, and to become knowledgeable and skilled in four key areas.
Understand what quality looks like
It’s important to develop a mental model of what quality looks like, from the perspective of the target audience. Many learners these days are sophisticated consumers of multimedia. They won’t tolerate poor quality. So we need to develop a benchmark, a set of quality parameters. The E-Learning Academy has tools, resources and courses on this very topic.
Become knowledgeable and skilled in 4 key areas
If you are the sponsor of an e-learning project, it is useful to become knowledgeable in four key areas so that you can communicate and work effectively with your e-learning developer. If you are going to develop e-learning yourself, then you need to develop four key skills.
1. E-Learning Instructional Design
This skill is a subset of traditional Instructional Design (ID), because the multimedia aspects of e-learning enable additional instructional techniques compared with paper-based ID. Becoming knowledgeable in e-learning ID allows you to collaboration effectively with your e-learning developer. If you wat to become developer yourself, then be sure to network with others to develop different perspectives on how you can approach content and interactivity.
Tips: Attend workshops. Google e-learning instructional design thought leaders such as Cathy Moore and Nicole White. Get your first module, video or webinar designed and developed by a professional, and repeat the instructional approach for subsequent e-learning of the same series.
2. Visual Design Skills
Hand in hand with e-learning instructional design, visual design is pivotal to creating context, maintaining interest, reducing text burden and reinforcing narration. Additionally, ensuring a clean layout helps learners stay focused.
Tips: Read up on multimedia design, website design and online accessibility. Review online courses with colleagues and discuss your observations.
3. Multimedia Production and Authoring
Authoring tools such as Storyline, Articulate Studio, Captivate and Lectora are relatively easy to use. However, there is a big difference between knowing a tool well enough to get out of trouble, and knowing advanced techniques that really make your content fly. The better you know the tool, the easier it is for you to understand how the features can be maximised to create learning interactivity and visual interest.
Tips: Get training from an expert. Get your first efforts critiqued by an e-learning expert (I’m happy to help here). Get your first module developed by a professional, and repeat the authoring approach for subsequent e-learning of the same series.
4. E-Learning Project Management
Whether you’re working with an internal project team or with an external e-learning provider, projects can quickly unravel. Use project management techniques to scope requirements, monitor deliverables, uncover issues and keep communication transparent.
Tips: E-Learning Academy members have access to specific e-learning project templates which can help you to quickly develop the project governance you need.
Before starting e-learning, be sure to do your homework. Complete and investigation and analysis to ensure your effort will be worth the return. And actively build knowledge and skills in e-learning design, development and management. Don’t be surprised if the early year or two of your strategy becomes all-consuming.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.
By Alison Bickford on February 23, 2013
Video podcast 32 is the first of a series of five videos exploring the role of change management when implementing a learning technology strategy; such as e-learning courseware, a Learning Management System, webinar, social media or a video platform for performance support.
Why not doenload this free training resource from iTunes.
Or read the transcript
Or watch the entire free tutorial series on our YouTube Channel (video podcast 32 is embedded below)