BudgetingDesign and Production Process

eLearning Production Cost-Saving Tips for Manufacturers

9 tips on how to save time and money developing eLearning

Maximizing the return on the investment of your eLearning course is an on-going concern. We all want to develop impactful courses, without over-spending our resources.

Before you begin development on your next course, use the following list of time and cost saving ideas to see if any are applicable to your project.

  1. Finalize a design document

Before you begin production, make sure there is an approved, thorough design document. This document should outline the following.

  • goals and objectives
  • content outline
  • delivery platform
  • authoring tool
  • specific functionality needed
  • length of course
  • testing methodology
  • media to be used
  • timeline
  • budget

The design document will help to ensure that the program scope, content, technical environment and functionality is spelled out and agreed to, saving time consuming and costly changes down the road.

  1. Secure approvals from all stakeholders

Be sure that all stakeholders have signed off on the design document before production begins. Stakeholders have different viewpoints and expectations. Be sure that all stakeholders are in agreement before production begins.

  1. Edit out extraneous material

If you’re in the position to review and edit content, take advantage of the opportunity. Too many times I have seen content that is non-goal oriented included in a program. It is also tempting to include unnecessary contextual background information in courses. Be a critical judge of the content; only include the necessary.

  1. Re-use resources

Judicious re-use of resources is a great way to save time and money in course development. Recycling code, tools, templates, videos and graphic icons are a great way to expedite production. But be mindful of developing cookie-cutter courses.

  1. Schedule your video and photography at one time

If you need to interfere with a production line to shoot photography or video, schedule all the shots in one block of time, if possible.

  1. Record narration after the video shoot

Scripts are quite frequently tweaked when faced with the real manufacturing world. Processes and procedures may not be performed exactly as described back at the office. Save the time and money of making narration changes by holding off on recording narration until after the video shoot. In addition, when you record the narration for quiz and assessment screens, have the format, instructions and feedback finalized before you record the audio.

  1. Set the terms for the review

Typically more than one person reviews a beta program. Insist on receiving ONE review document that details the groups’ consensus on changes. I have received documents with columns from each reviewer that sometimes contradict each other or are non-directive. This often happens when the document gets passed around from one reviewer to another. Save time and money by meeting with all reviewers to go over the final document before sending it on to the developer.

  1. Talk to a programmer

Reviewing a storyboard with a developer before production begins can uncover time saving methods to achieve the same goal. There could be a less time consuming approach to how a tool works, a story is presented or an interaction is developed that doesn’t affect the purpose, but is more efficient. Use your developers as efficiency experts when possible.

  1. Explore animation alternatives

Training for manufacturing applications occasionally calls for animation. If you have determined that animation is the best method for delivering specific content, there are different levels of animation production. Perhaps you don’t need fully rendered 3D animation. Other less costly alternatives include: Series of photos or CAD drawings, line drawings with graphic enhancements or 2D drawings

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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  1. December 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm — Reply

    Tip #7 (about reviews) really resonates with me. I’d just been discussing that issue with a colleague, and your line about comments that “contradict each other or are non-directive” sounds so familiar!

    It’s really helpful to have SMEs add their comments to a central copy of a document (such as on SharePoint) rather than emailing a copy to them all.

    • Ron Trilling
      December 5, 2014 at 9:21 am — Reply

      Feedback is a tricky issue. You certainly want it as part of the iterative process of improvement, but there must be a consensus. I try to get our clients to come to a consensus document before we implement changes.

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