Design and Production ProcessInstructional Media Strategies

Manufacturers: Before e-learning development begins, answer these 6 key questions

Save production re-work on your training course by asking the right questions upfront

It’s been weeks or months in the making. A new product, process or software training program is heading your way. SMEs were identified, scripts have been written, resources allocated.  Assuming that a proper Instructional design process has already taken place (goals written, audience identified, skill level determined, etc.), it’s time to crank up the production process, right?

Well, hold on. This is the point in time where it’s critical that some final issues are addressed in order to avoid huge barriers down the road.  Too often I’ve seen the push to ‘get it out there’ shoot developers in the foot.

Let’s take a quick look at some key questions that need to be answered before e-learning production begins:

  1. What is the technical environment for the e-learning module?

It’s critical to define the technical environment that your training module will be housed and displayed on. The answers to these questions can greatly impact the authoring tool that’s used (Flash won’t work on iOS devices), the instructional methods employed (mouse hovers won’t work on a touch device) , the resolution of the interface (desktop, table and smartphones are all different), and other key issues.

Try to tightly refine the technical environment that you need to develop for. More platforms mean more possibilities for development constraints, issues and longer testing times. The main technical questions that need to be answered include:

  • What devices are supported? – – PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone,
  • What operating systems are supported? – Windows 7, 8, Mac Mavericks, Mountain Lion, etc.
  • What browsers and versions are supported? – Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safai, etc.
  • What connectivity will the users need? – Will the program be resident on a drive or will the learner need a network or wireless connection?
  1. Who are your Stakeholders?

Your client, SME and department manager are probably not the only stakeholders. I recently had a “stealth” stakeholder pop up in the middle of production who wanted to view the e-learning project on his smartphone. The program was being developed for desktop only. Imagine the panic that ensued after that previously unidentified VIP appeared on my client’s radar!

  1. Who is responsible for each task in the production of the program?

Ask the right questions to make sure you are clear about everyone’s responsibility on your development team. And be sure to have one person identified as the primary contact who has the authority to sign off on each stage of the project.

  1. Do you have all the necessary production resources?

Script, storyboard, resource files (video, audio, graphics, reference materials, etc.), must all be identified, available and clearly distinguished as final or placeholder.

  1. Does the training program need to be served and tracked by a LMS?

If so, be sure the output files from your authoring platform have been tested on that system.

  1. Have clear, reasonable deadlines been established?

“Tomorrow” is not a workable deadline. Everyone wants to make up for lost time on the back-end. Be clear on the deadlines established, including work-in-progress deadlines like interface design, prototype design, beta release, etc. If deadlines are unattainable, seek out less-time consuming production alternatives.

The development of elearning courseware in the industrial market takes a considerable amount of time and resources. Eliminate wasted effort and frustration by asking the right questions BEFORE production begins.

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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