You are project-managing a business need in your organisation. You've done your analysis, spoken to managers and stakeholders, and constructed a blend of learning that will deliver the required result for the business. But how do you design and deliver the eLearning element of your blend? You need external help - so where do you start looking for it?
Here are some thinking points to help you choose the provider that’s right for you.
Can you harness the power of your network?
Recommendations are a good way to select potential providers of anything.
Ask around. If you are a member of an active eLearning LinkedIn group, you could ask other members to share their thoughts. HR professionals' forums or groups could also be a good place to ask for tips, and you could join networks like eLearning Heroes, see working examples and find out the possibilities. And keep an ear open for what industry experts have to say.
When getting recommendations, make sure that you ask the right questions. You'll need to know about the entire experience; not only the end product, but about working with the provider and the result. Did the eLearning achieve its goals? Was it delivered on time, on budget, and to specification?
Are they L&D professionals?
To do a good job, designers need to understand learning and the challenges that L&D faces, and how learners’ learn in the workplace. They need to understand what your business is trying to achieve, the culture and the current level of skill.
Does the provider understand what you’re trying to achieve? A good supplier will offer suggestions and challenge if they don't think the proposed solution will deliver the objectives at the core of the business’s need.
Are they web developers or eLearning developers?
There are many companies or agencies that say they can develop eLearning content. They have web/HTML5 or app developers (but not specific eLearning developers) who are very good and know their stuff, but don’t have an L&D background and will likely not be coming at it from a learning point of view.
A good litmus test is the question ‘Is it SCORM compliant?’ Many non-eLearning developers do not have any idea what SCORM is. This should ring alarm bells.
Work by a non-learning-focused content developer might—and probably will—look great, but normally it won't flow well, meet your learning objectives, or be pitched at the right level.
A great provider will have a robust process outlining the key steps of the project and the method. At Bray Leino Learning we have a clear process so the client understands what the end-to-end steps are and how much they need to be involved.
Can the content deliver on your technical and functional requirements?
When you’re getting down to technical and functional specifications, it’s time to find out: do they use the industry-standard development tools? And does this fit with your hosting solution? A good eLearning developer should be able to accommodate your technical requirements.
Some key questions:
· what tool do they use to develop eLearning?
· is it SCORM 1.2 compliant (or equivalent)?
· can it work across multiple devices?
If your provider is designing using Adobe Flash, for example, and you’re delivering your learning on iPad, it’s not going to work. Some providers may prefer a tool that might not be right for your LMS, but most should have at least a couple of authoring options in their toolbox.
Always check your technical requirements and speak to your IT and LMS team—it’s a good idea to bring them in at the early stages. Sometimes unanticipated technical issues can lead to the failure of a whole project. One company went ahead with commissioning a multimedia eLearning module, but did not include IT in the early scoping meetings. They found out later that the company computers didn’t have sound cards, meaning their new eLearning could not play audio clips.
Are you both being realistic about the budget?
Check that the all-singing, all-dancing eLearning is within your budget. We can be blinded by fabulous, sleek design!
If you’ve been inspired by some learning you've seen at an event or conference, bear in mind that the more bells and whistles featured in the content, the more expensive it's likely to be.
If you want things like voiceover, video, AV, and more complex interactivity, then the price point will be higher. Think of it as like buying a car – the base model will deliver your expectations (going from A to B). However, if you want extras like electric seats, parking sensors and so on... the more elements you add, the higher the cost.
Talk to potential provider about this—a good eLearning provider should discuss this with you and give you clear examples to help you understand what they can do for your budget.
Are you rushing into a decision?
You might need to deliver learning on a tight schedule, but don’t let the time pressure influence your decision. Taking into account all of the above will enable you to make the informed choice.
Our designers can help with any format you need or work with you to determine the best eLearning solutions for your content. Contact us now to discuss this further, or book a consultation with one of our experts.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pro’s and con’s, and general advice on everything eLearning!
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