Vol. 16 : No. 12< >
Editor’s Note: Dr. Troha shares a list of
directives for success that can be applied in almost every arena of
education and training. It is an interesting mental exercise to apply
these tips to an ongoing enterprise or one in the process of
development. Then we can apply them in real world situations.
Ensuring E-learning Success:
|1. Course Title|
|2. Purpose Statement|
|3. Audience Description|
|5. Prerequisites (if any)|
|6. Learning Objectives|
| 8. Content / Learning Activities Outline
(For each item of content to be addressed, indicate how it would be conveyed to audience members and the estimated time required.)
|9. Transfer of Learning Strategy|
|10. Evaluation Strategy|
|11. Content Sourcing (What We Have vs. What We Need)|
1. Main Components of an Instructional Design Document
Add any other sections that are needed to clearly and comprehensively communicate your design, including all project management documentation.
4. Carefully select the right provider for the job. Buying e-learning or blended learning services is fraught with challenges. To improve the odds of choosing the most appropriate provider, consider the following guidelines.
a. Develop and confirm precise, comprehensive selection criteria (e.g., past experience addressing similar topics for similar organizations, fee structure, service standards, references, etc.) before meeting with any prospective providers. Without such internally developed and approved criteria, you are likely to wind up comparing apples with oranges. Additionally, unless key internal stakeholders are involved in setting and approving the selection criteria you will use, you may – come hiring time – encounter resistance to the provider you favor.
b. Use the preliminary design document and selection criteria to interview prospective providers. The preliminary design document should enable you to clearly and efficiently communicate what you have in mind to prospective providers as well as respond informatively to any questions they ask you. Further, the document should position you to pose this crucial question to potential providers: To take our design to the next level, what exactly would you recommend and why? The prepared selection criteria would prompt other important questions, such as: How long would it take your organization to deliver what we need? How much would it cost? What might cause the price to exceed that figure? What guarantees can you provide in terms of our satisfaction with the quality of your work and client service? Will you prepare – at no cost to us -- a sample unit or lesson, to demonstrate what you would do for us? If you are awarded the project, how do you see us collaborating during design, development and deployment? By virtue of applying the agreed upon preliminary design document and selection criteria, you and everyone else involved in the selection process can compare apples with apples and base your choice of provider on an objective, internally-accepted scorecard.
c. If you are new to e-learning or blended learning, start small. According to Forrester Research (www.forrester.com), only 30% of employees bother to complete an e-learning course. With statistics like that (and others that are equally worrisome), it is not only wise to choose outside help carefully, it is imperative that you limit your initial financial commitment to a small initiative or a portion of a larger one.
5. From start to finish, keep all key individuals informed and appropriately involved. A successful e-learning or blended learning initiative requires careful project planning, solid instructional design, the development of all instructional components based on an approved design document, ongoing attention to project management issues (e.g., budget, scheduling and communications), various formative evaluations prior to launch, deployment of the learning and ongoing evaluation and maintenance of the learning system. With so many activities affecting so many people, you simply cannot afford to neglect ongoing communication with all key players throughout the process. But, doesn’t such communication open a Pandora’s box of questioning, second-guessing and time consuming follow-up? Ironically, failing to communicate regularly is more likely to delay progress – or much worse. A couple of noses out of joint over being left out of the loop has been known to foment a crisis. Worth noting is the fact that precisely defining and agreeing to roles and responsibilities up front helps to preempt a significant, if not substantial, number of queries later on.
6. Strive for self-sufficiency and control. Though live, instructor-facilitated, face-to-face classroom instruction will not likely be replaced by e-learning, rest assured e-learning is here to stay. As you gain experience with e-learning and blended learning, consider bringing as much of the total effort as practicable in-house. Besides saving money, you will become less dependent on the efforts of outside providers who have much less of a stake than you in the success of your initiatives and their impact on your career. Already some of today’s Learning Content Management Systems make updating existing e-courses a snap for anyone who cares to invest a few minutes in learning how to do so. Further, most in-house training personnel are capable of preparing preliminary designs for e-learning and blended learning courses. By virtue of producing a design in-house, the involvement (and cost) of an outside design consultant can be limited to providing feedback on the preliminary design and enhancing its overall effectiveness. (For a free report detailing how to independently produce preliminary designs for e-learning and blended learning courses, send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Perhaps you have personally experienced some of the
many threats that plague major e-learning and blended learning
initiatives. If so, I think you would agree upon reflection that all such
threats can be successfully prevented or mitigated. Foresight, diligence
and know-how, including the application of the six simple tips shared
here, are all key to initiative success and well worth your time and
Frank J. Troha, Ph.D., is an independent e-learning and blended learning design consultant, assisting a wide variety of U.S. corporations. For information about his background and advisory services, contact:
Frank J. Troha, Instructional Design and Development
One Landmark Square, No. 411, Port Chester,, New York, 10573 USA
Office 1-914-922-0114 FAX: 1-914-933-0115 email: email@example.com